Innovations in Food Technology - Use of nitrogen

04.07.2018 10:01

Read the article in the journal Innocvations in Food Processing & Packaging HERE>

The use of nitrogen in food production in Rwanda

Nitrogen (N2) plays an important role in the food industry. Firstly, the gas is used to make packaged foods last longer. Deoxygenation in the packaging minimizes the ripening process and prolongs taste preservation. Among experts, this process is known as "Modified Atmosphere Packaging" (MAP).
Secondly, the food industry uses N2 for "Blanketing". Dusty and/or dust-laden foods are blanketed with nitrogen to prevent explosions. The company Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda Ltd. uses the gas for both purposes.

Africa Improved Foods (AIF) – A company's noble aim

With more than 12 million habitants, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated states in East Africa. According to a study conducted in 2010, 38% of all children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition and associated malformations. Thus, in 2013, the government launched the "1000 Day Campaign" to improve the health conditions of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and infants. A balanced diet during the first 1000 days – from birth to the second year of life – plays an essential role in the physical and mental devel-opment of the child.
Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda Ltd. aims to produce high-quality, nutrient-rich foods for pregnant women, young mothers, and babies ranked in the lower classes of population. Today, AIF supplies its essential products not only to the Rwanda government but also to the World Food Program (WFP) organization.
The headquarter and manufacturing site of the company is in Kigali – the state capital. The state-of-the-art factory now employs more than 300 workers, who mainly produce nutrient-rich cereal meals for mothers and infants. The basic ingredients (maize and soy) are purchased from around 900 local farmers. On site, the cereal is ground and refined with micro-nutrients, dried milk, and soybean oil. The "Nootri" meals for breastfeeding mothers and infants under six months are distributed at very affordable prices, even beyond the borders of Rwanda.

Client request to INMATEC

Although the production facility of Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda Ltd. adheres to European standards, the company still struggles every day with poor local infrastructure. A key obstacle that needed to be overcome was the supply of nitrogen. AIF would have had to depend on the unstable delivery of the gas in bottles or tanks. Furthermore, to guarantee a steady N2 supply, significant costs would have been incurred, which would increase product prices.
Thus, at a very early stage of the factory’s construction, the company decided to install two oil-free compressed-air and nitrogen systems to successfully deal with this problem.
Thanks to the two models PN 2150 OnTouch from INMATEC, the Africa Improved Foods (AIF)
Rwanda Ltd. can now produce N2 autono-mously and significantly reduce the manufactur-ing cost of the products.
AIF decided to install two systems to have a back-up. This would guarantee 100%fail-safe performance. The stationary systems are designed for indoor use; are ventilated and suitable for use at higher altitude. Thanks to stainless steel components (pipes and contain-ers), the systems meet required food standards.

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