Keeping products fresh made easier

Cheese comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours. Whether it’s a creamy camembert, a blue cheese with extra bite, or a sharp parmesan, there’s a place for cheese in many dishes. One place cheese manufacturer Dairy Country doesn’t want its products to land is the in the trash. But, when cheese comes in packages as large as 20kg it can be a challenge creating an environment that keeps the product fresh. With help from Pulford Air and Gas, Dairy Country can keep cheese from being subjected to unwanted elements that cause it to go stale or mouldy.

Dairy Country’s products range from 100g retail and foodservice packs to 20kg bulk grated, shredded, shaved and block cheeses. It specialises in processing and supplying mozzarella, parmesan and tasty cheese. The company has a high-volume dairy processing facility that processes cheese products for the local and export markets. The company’s management team said maintaining the quality of the cheese while keeping operating costs low.

The Dairy Country team said they were able to successfully deliver products with the assistance of Pulford’s modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technologies, ensuring the stated product life is achieved and, most importantly, impeding mould growth. “The MAP technologies provide the initial product security measures to consistently meet food safety standards and consumer expectations,” they said.

MAP can be used in a variety of applications and it covers a wide range of products such as meats, baked products, pre-cooked foods, cheese, powdered milks, coffee, wine, crisps, nuts and dried foods. The advantages of MAP include assisting in extending the preservation period of a product – allowing for better economies of scale, better inventory management and transport costs to be handled in the most profitable way. This helps maximise revenue and minimise losses. MAP also aids in reducing the level of additives and preservatives that are required in a product.

Pulford’s nitrogen and air services are used directly and indirectly on most products manufactured at Dairy Country, the team said. “Dairy Country generates its own nitrogen, in bulk, which reduces the cost of manufacture. In order to maintain this low operating cost, the machinery and equipment must be able to operate at the required capacity and capability all year round, they said.

“Dairy Country has a service contract agreement with Pulford to maintain its air compressors as well as the nitrogen generation plant. All machinery and equipment is maintained and planned according to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) service requirements at the required frequency. In addition, certain services are adjusted according to machine age, as well as input from Pulford, based on industry experience and knowledge.

“By maintaining the machinery in an ongoing reliable state, it allows us to meet our weekly production plan and operating targets as well as allowing for increased demand during the peak season,” the team said.

Pulford provides a cost effective service and the service and management teams are both flexible and supportive to the operation’s needs, which can quickly change and require an immediate response, they said. “With this type of commitment and service support, Dairy Country can remain focused on the daily operational KPIs and ensure all goals are met on a weekly basis.”

Pulford Air and Gas managing director, Tom Fyfe, said Pulford offers 24/7 service as many food manufacturers operate day and night. “We’ve got 25 technicians nationally that service the compressor air side and nitrogen generation technology side.” They are able to help with all MAP and nitrogen generation technology needs, he said.

“MAP is where nitrogen is injected into the packaging to reduce the amount of oxygen in the bag.” If cheese is still sealed and there’s no oxygen in the bag, or the oxygen is limited to half-a-per-cent, the shelf life extends well into six months, he said. “It depends on the way the product is prepared. As long as the packaging is sealed, it can be used for any type of food.” Depending on the product, the shelf life can be extended enormously, he said. Fyfe said he has seen products that are years old tested, and they were still useable at a good standard.

Fyfe reiterated that using nitrogen injections means products need less preservatives, which appeals to a lot of manufacturers. Many food and beverage producers are wanting to steer clear of preservatives where necessary, he said. “It’s certainly important in the wine industry. That is why wineries use nitrogen injections for the bottling process.”

Pulford has been helping businesses with gas injections for about 10 years. The company produces gas on site, giving the customer more control over usage and costs, said Fyfe. With Pulford’s system, 100 per cent of the gas can be used, rather than risking liquid or gas escaping, he said. “Particularly within the food industry, if they are half way through the processing or packaging of fresh product, it’s a huge cost to have to stop to source more gas.” But if a company runs out of gas unexpectedly mid-way through a packing run, even on the weekend, Pulford can supply more. The modular design of Pulford’s products also allows companies to add to the system as business increases or gas requirements alter.

Furthermore, while savings can be made by reducing waste, savings can also be made by simply producing nitrogen gas on site rather than getting it delivered, said Fyfe. Pulford offers low cost nitrogen, no gas rental or delivery charges, and an end to high gas costs and lengthy legal contracts.