The role of dry ice in the food and beverage industry is important

dry ice

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is versatile offering different forms including solid (i.e. dry ice), liquid and gas for different application purposes in the food and beverage industry.

Supagas, as a business has worked in the Australian gas industry since 1968 and continues to work with a range of food and beverage businesses offering specialty and industrial gases. A supplier of LPG, industrial, bulk, specialty, hospitality and helium gases, supplies CO2 specific products to the food and beverage industry for various uses.

George Elhlou, national specialty gases manager and David Petroff, national industrial bulk manager at Supagas, confirmed the company is exhibiting at FoodTech 2022. The 2022 event is the first year Supagas will be exhibiting, as the show will bring together food and technology in the one place. In joining the two day conference on the Gold Coast, the team look forward to the range of suppliers and an opportunity to gain further insights into food science and technology.

The process of creating dry ice involves using liquid CO2 and compressing into solid CO2 known as dry ice, which can be extruded into pellets or moulded into blocks and slices. Dry ice is utilised throughout the food and beverage industry supply chain, from the use of specialised equipment to process food products to the suppliers and manufacturers handling and packaging food. Supagas began manufacturing dry ice in 2005, as the product has come far, but challenges are always present.

dry ice
Dry ice provides a transportable refrigeration option in a clean no mess way, with minimal to no waste.

When Supagas first introduced making dry ice, employees were unsure how dry ice would be used and how much in terms of quantity would be sold. For Supagas, entering the market was an emerging opportunity and a leap of faith, which today has been realised as the demand for dry ice continues to grow for Supagas. The supply of dry ice can be attributed to Supagas’ self-sustainability with a modern CO2 plant located in Bombaderry NSW, which was needed to help the business grow with the rapidly increasing demand for dry ice.

Dry ice is truly a versatile product, as it provides suppliers and customers with a transportable refrigeration option in a clean no mess way, with minimal to no waste. The process involves, firstly sourcing the CO2 (i.e. it is manufactured), it is then transferred to the production plant, whereby the product is directed as required into dry ice machines to start the task of manufacturing the product. The dry ice machines are designed, with the capability to extrude dry ice into pellets or form slices and blocks. The product is ultimately extruded or moulded based on the dry ice type that is required for the customer.

An example is meat processors, whereby the meat cuts are prepared in the production facility, although between the time of producing the cuts and the product you see in the supermarket the meat needs to stay below an exact safe temperature during transport. The meat processors will generally place dry ice into storage bins with the meat once it has been processed into cuts. The type of dry ice used can be the dry ice pellets or snow made on site. For dry ice slices there is a whole industry which utilise this product form, which is the airline industry. Specifically, airline catering businesses, where you would be familiar in seeing the food and drink trolley carts which are kept cool with dry ice used during flights.

In addition, to pellets and slices, blocks are used in the transportation of perishables in the freight industry both domestically and overseas, as well as some pre-prepared frozen meals that arrive at your door step might use dry ice to stay cool. The temperature of dry ice is around -78°C, and as CO2 sublimates into a heavy gas (i.e. turning from a solid into a gas) it transfers the coldness into the surrounding foodstuffs.

In the agricultural sector, producers and businesses all over Australia grow fruit such as apples and oranges, grow and catch seafood like fish, prawns and lobsters for domestic and international distribution. The products are placed in temperature controlled facilities and warehouses, so the product can be packaged, preserved and distributed throughout Australia and overseas. However, businesses may not have access to refrigerated facilities, thereby, dry ice is a product they can reply on for mobile transportation to keep their products fresh.

It might be kept in a foam box to keep the dry ice cold for use, thereby, the storage conditions of dry ice are important to consider. In understanding, the life cycle of perishable goods, without appropriate refrigeration can spoil. Therefore, dry ice is a highly versatile product and option that can assist as a temporary method for keeping food items cold and fresh.

dry ice
The supply of dry ice can be attributed to Supagas’ self-sustainability, with a modern CO2 plant located in Bombaderry.

Supagas’ state-of-the-art facilities allows for the offering of multiple gas types and gas products, as well as manage a specialised NATA accredited laboratory to blend and test specialty gas mixtures that are used in food preservation. At Supagas, safety and quality are core values, the industrial gas supplied in Australia is made under the ISO9001-2015 quality accreditation. The gas professionals at Supagas are committed to complying with Australian Standards. For Supagas the production and storage of liquid CO2 for the use with food ingredients complies with HACCP.

The benefits of dry ice include keeping items cold, with no waste left behind as it dissipates back into a gas. Supagas customer’s use dry ice because they see the benefits of the cooling power, quality and durability. Dry ice has twice the refrigeration capability compared to gel packs, whereby the gel packs remain as waste after use. Furthermore, dry ice is a phenomenal product with great flexibility and capabilities. For customers dry ice is a realistic option for the food and processing industry to aid food manufacture, freeze meals, preserving beverages and transporting perishable products. The demand and market for dry ice will continue to grow, as there is a bright future for this product.

To find out more about Specialty and Industrial Bulk Products and Gases, contact Supagas on 13 78 72 or visit supagas.com.au.  


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