Safeguarding UK Agriculture: Direct Air’s Take on Fresh Produce Resilience

01/11/2023

AIR compressors have proven to be helpful aids in minimising the effects of the prior fresh fruit and vegetable crisis in the United Kingdom. Air compressors, in conjunction with nitrogen-generating technology, enable the development of controlled atmospheres that extend the shelf life of fresh products, conserving the quality, nutrient content, and flavour of agricultural commodities during times of shortage.

It is critical, however, to recognise that air compressors are far from a universally applicable answer. To develop a resilient and economically viable agricultural system, the UK must address the core causes of the nation’s previous fresh food limited availability.

The agriculture business has also been hampered by labour shortages. Policies to recruit and keep qualified agricultural workers, promotion of education and training programmes, and research into robots and automation can all help to avoid future shortages.

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on worldwide production lines, particularly in agriculture. To avoid future disruptions, companies must examine strong supply chain policies that promote local sourcing and technology improvements.

Continuing ahead, the United Kingdom may strengthen its resilience by implementing better weather monitoring and sustainable agriculture practices, encouraging cooperation, and promoting regional food chains. Area General Manager at Direct Air, Tim McGill, emphasised the importance of air compressors together with associated technologies in the food and drink sector: 

“Air compressors and related technology, such as nitrogen generators, play a critical role in our customers’ operations within the Food and Beverage industry. Compressed air systems are instrumental in facilities producing food and beverages consumed daily in the UK. 

They are particularly vital in dairy production, where nitrogen injection is used to create micro-bubbles, improving texture without compromising the taste of products like cream and desserts. Nitrogen purging, filling, blanketing, and various other applications are employed across the food and beverage industry to extend shelf life, prevent oxidation, contamination, and ensure the safety of our food.”

Nitrogen generators play an important part in providing a steady supply of fresh food, even in difficult conditions, by assisting in the creation and maintenance of regulated environments that increase the shelf life for fruits, vegetables, and other perishable commodities. They help to preserve fresh vegetables in the following ways:

Reduction of Oxygen Levels: Nitrogen generators produce high-purity nitrogen gas, which is used to displace oxygen in storage environments. By reducing the oxygen levels, nitrogen minimises the oxidative processes that cause food to spoil. This reduction in oxygen levels creates an atmosphere that inhibits the growth of microorganisms and slows down the ripening of fruits and vegetables.

Preservation of Freshness: Nitrogen helps maintain the freshness of produce by reducing the rate of respiration, which is the process that leads to the breakdown of organic matter. As a result, fruits and vegetables can be stored for extended periods without losing their quality, nutritional value, or flavour.

Protection Against Pathogens: Lower oxygen levels created by nitrogen generators also inhibit the growth of bacteria and moulds. This protection against pathogens ensures that fresh produce remains safe for consumption and lowers the risk of contamination.

Reduction of Food Waste: By slowing down the ripening and deterioration of fresh produce, nitrogen generators reduce food waste. This is particularly crucial during times of surplus or when there are transportation delays, ensuring that more of the harvest reaches consumers.

Enhanced Distribution: They can be used during packaging and transportation of fresh produce to maintain controlled atmospheres. This helps ensure that the quality of the produce remains consistent throughout the supply chain, from the farm to the consumer’s table.

  • Adaptability to Various Crops: They can be customised to meet the specific needs of different types of fruits and vegetables. This adaptability allows for the precise control of storage conditions, optimizing freshness and shelf life for a wide range of produce.
  • Energy-Efficient Solution: They are energy-efficient, making them a sustainable option for preserving fresh produce. They require minimal maintenance and offer a cost-effective means of extending the shelf life of agricultural products.

In challenging circumstances, such as periods of shortages, transportation delays, or disruptions in the supply chain, nitrogen generators provide a valuable tool for ensuring a consistent supply of fresh produce. By creating controlled atmospheres that slow down the natural deterioration of fruits and vegetables, these generators play a crucial role in reducing food waste, enhancing food safety, and ensuring that consumers have access to fresh and high-quality produce.

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