Developing within New Zealand’s own food and beverage industries, refrigeration was once a “black art” – often more intuition than science.
With a mandate to “build a box and make something cold”, systems were inconsistent, some cobbled together with nothing more than redundant farm equipment and left-over bits from garages across the country, the No 8 genius of New Zealand innovation a nightmare for today’s health and safety inspectors.
Today’s systems are far more sophisticated, providing reliability of performance and the ability for fine degrees of temperature control barely imaginable 20 years ago – a must given the critical nature of temperature control for a premium product. But like the beverages being created, refrigeration requirements and equipment needs vary with the product, the environment and the size of the facility directing choices in packaged chillers or customised plant.
Changes in refrigeration, particularly refrigerants, mean a far wider choice than the traditional brine and ammonia chiller solutions are now readily available, with system design and operational performance heavily focused on reducing carbon emissions and creating operational efficiencies. Within the non-alcoholic beverage sector, production requirements have many similarities to food processing and refrigerated facilities are being developed within a broader production strategy.
Within all beverage development, refrigeration plays a vital role, with refrigeration energy costs accounting for 30-50% of production costs.