When Your Champagne Loses Its Bubbles
There’s no accounting for (changes in) taste.
Consumer tastes are evolving faster than ever before, and food and beverage marketers are racing to stay ahead of the curve.
Spurred by the exotic foods they’re seeing every day on social media, consumers are becoming more adventurous and looking for bolder flavors that awaken multiple senses. Today’s shopper is seeking healthier choices. In some cases, these can be plant-based options, fermented foods, or alternatives to meat-based proteins, which are viewed as being more sustainable than their animal-based counterparts. They’re also focused on snacking not just on empty calories but on foods that provide sustenance between meals and that support long-term health.
Trend followers are noting that flavors associated with health and wellness, nature, adventure and nostalgia are popular this year. For the last several years, there has been a growing buzz around gut health and the microbiome. In fact, the number of products containing probiotics such as kombucha is rising, as is the use of ingredients believed to promote overall good health, such as turmeric, ginger, goji berries and ginseng.Not only are consumers very in tune with what they’re eating, they’re also keenly focused on where it originates. In fact, studies have shown that consumers will pay more for products with proven sustainability claims.
Brands are searching for ways to make food and beverages more visually appealing and to use more whole, natural ingredients. Many times, this involves altering a tried-and-true process or introducing some new technology to achieve the desired result.
Dinner “Jetsons style” – thanks to 3D printing.
We know that scientists can now print heart valves and human limbs, but there’s a new frontier in 3D printing that’s just beginning to come into focus – food. Yes, technology now makes it possible for machines to print, cook and serve foods on a mass scale. Even in the world of pastry chefs, 3D printers are adding a whole new level of inspiration to their creations. But scientists are pushing the limits of these machines even further – by developing 3D food printers that can also revolutionize nutrition.
In fact, engineers predict that 3D printers of the future will be able to deliver exact dosages of drugs, vitamins and supplements in foods customized to the specific caloric needs of an individual. The technology could even allow customization at a macro-nutritional level, enabling users to tailor the amounts of calcium, protein, omega-3 and carbohydrates to their specific dietary requirements. Could 3D printing of food actually be the missing link between nutrition and personalized medicine?
And, if you think about the sustainability aspect of 3D food printing technology, consider that supermarkets of the future could stock “food capsules” rather than today’s perishable whole ingredients. These capsules would last years, would free up shelf space and would drastically reduce transportation and storage requirements.
But how would the current food manufacturing and distribution model need to change to adapt to these trends? And how do we ensure 3D printers are able to deliver on the quality and repeatability fronts? Mott works with OEMs to custom design filter and fluidic components that achieve contamination-free, uniform distribution and consistency in even the most challenging food and beverage applications.
For years, manufacturers have been sparging nitrogen into their products to maintain food quality during transport and to extend shelf life. In packaged foods, manufacturers use nitrogen to displace oxygen, locking out moisture and, therefore, bacteria, which relies on oxygen for growth. It’s also widely used to uphold the quality of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, seafood and meat.
For years, winemakers have employed nitrogen gas sparging to remove volatile contaminants and improve the wine’s taste and shelf life. In fact, sparging tiny nitrogen bubbles into wine has been a critical process step for many years.
Today, nitrogen is finding its way into all types of beverages, including fruit juices, protein waters, coffee, tea and beer. Brands are also experimenting with nitrogen-infused milks, including chocolate-flavored milks. These smooth, creamy beverages can also be rich in antioxidants and low in acidity.
Just ask anyone who has tried a nitrogen-infused beer and he or she will tell you it has a smoother, creamier taste – all thanks to the tiny bubbles nitrogen creates. But beyond just taste, there are differences in appearance and smell as well.
But imagine if the wrong amount of gas or incorrect size bubbles were infused into your drinks? It could easily result in a beverage that’s bitter and a far cry from smooth and silky. Mott knows spargers. In fact, you may not realize it but, chances are, your beer, shrimp and cereal were infused with gases delivered by a Mott sparger.
In search of a more efficient way to feed the masses.
The global population is expected to grow to an estimated 9.6 billion people by 2050, and analysts project that global food production will need to increase by an estimated 70% in developed countries and 100% in developing countries to feed these populations. While agriculture has come a long way in the past century, modern food production methods will need a radical transformation to keep up.
One option becoming widely adopted is vertical farming, a practice that produces food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a skyscraper or a warehouse, where the environment can be meticulously controlled. Vertical farms make the year-round cultivation of food possible for a variety of crops. The process uses 70-80% less water than conventional growing farms. It also overcomes yearly weather patterns, changing climates and issues with land availability and quality, requires no skilled labor and virtually no herbicides or pesticides. One square meter of vertical farm produces 50-100 times that of a conventional farm. The one drawback: the amount of energy required to provide artificial lighting and climate control.
So, experts are also exploring methods to grow crops in naturally-lit environments like raised beds in communal gardens and rooftop aquaponic systems that grow food with the help of fish.
What will be required of the technology and systems to support these transformations? From efficient use of water, to recovery of critical elements using proprietary filtration techniques, Mott is poised to help with mounting food production demands by engineering solutions for the latest innovations.
Delivering solutions for start-ups and established brands alike.
For decades, Mott has been working side-by-side with innovative engineering teams searching for ways to make food and beverage production more efficient.
Our state-of-the-art sintered spargers introduce nitrogen, air, or CO2 into liquids through thousands of tiny pores, creating bubbles far smaller and more numerous than with drilled pipe or other sparging methods – reducing energy expenses and ensuring consistent results time after time.
Our unique wicking solutions function in vertical farming environments and our custom, 3D-printed filter and flow control devices are used in the most challenging food processing applications.
Whether you need energy storage solutions because you’re converting your automated equipment from fossil fuels to more sustainable power sources, or perhaps because you’re exploring enhanced robotic farming solutions like crop-spraying drones, we’re here to help.
Mott’s engineers won’t only help you ensure your champagne maintains its bubbles. If you’re struggling with a challenge that is mission critical, and you can’t afford for anything to go wrong, our engineers are eager to work with you to customize a solution. Contact us today.
By: Sean Kane
Title: Director of Product Management and Strategy