In Ukraine, there is a growing interest in the production of dried fruit and berry products. Last year, a record for the last five years was achieved in the export of dried fruits. Seeds notes that the positive trend continues this year.
In the first two months of the new season (June-July), Ukrainian exporters delivered abroad about 0.4 thousand tons of dried fruits worth $ 407 thousand. For the same period last year, 0.2 thousand tons of dried fruits were exported, and export proceeds amounted to $ 279 thousand.
However, despite the positive dynamics of growth in the export of dried fruits and berries, Ukraine remains a net importer of these products. Moreover, the annual growth in dried fruit imports has been observed over the past five seasons. If, in the 2015/16 season, foreign supplies of dried fruits amounted to only 2.7 thousand tons, then in the 2019/20 season, this figure reached 11.2 thousand tons.
One of the reasons for the growth in the export of dried fruits and berries today is the rapid growth in imported products’ volume since Ukraine partially re-exports foreign dried fruits.
The growth of its production and the construction of new enterprises for drying fruits and berries in Ukraine is still quite slow. Therefore the increase in demand for dried fruits in the country is, in most cases, covered by supplies from Turkey, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
These countries’ climatic conditions allow the mass drying of fruits and berries under the sun without spending additional funds on industrial drying equipment and electricity. However, the climatic zone in which Ukraine is located does not allow using the “technologies” of the above countries for drying fruits and berries.
Therefore, local manufacturers carry out drying exclusively with the help of industrial dryers. And this has its advantages because the use of modern equipment for drying fruits and berries allows you to get such quality products that cannot be achieved when drying fruits under the sun of Asian countries.
In particular, representatives of the Tolsma Technik company, which specializes in providing integrated solutions for Ukrainian farmers and enterprises to process vegetables, fruits, and berries, note that modern dryers allow preserving the nutritional properties of fruits and berries in fresh products. In contrast, the storage of dried products is greatly facilitated.
“On the one hand, it is more profitable to dry fruits and berries in the sun, since energy costs are zero. On the other hand, this type of drying is associated with the constant use of manual labor. Besides, products must be carefully protected from insects and other biological organisms.
Accordingly, industrial drying of fruits and berries is a safer way, since the production goes through all stages of preparation such as washing and sorting, and the possibility of damage to products is minimized,” notes Natalia Zelenskaya, Business Development Manager at Tolsma Technik.”
Modern machines for drying fruits and berries offered by Tolsma Technik are manufactured by the Italian company Tecno Frutta. Dryers are versatile, can be used for various types of fruits, vegetables, berries, mushrooms, herbs, and are designed to minimize the impact on products.
The operation principle is based on removing moisture from the products through the forced circulation of hot and dry air created by the aerothermal group. This is an entirely natural process that ensures a high level of quality in the finished product.
Accordingly, the manufacturer can use the equipment today, conditionally, for drying apples, and tomorrow – for drying plums, cherries, or strawberries (garden strawberries). Given the availability of an automatic washing system and an automated control system, the transition from drying one product to another is carried out as quickly as possible.
“All dryers presented by Tolsma Technik are versatile since each of them is equipped with the function of adjusting temperature, airspeed, and conveyor speed.
The same product can be dried to a different state, that is, to obtain both semi-dried products and completely dried products, the residual moisture in which does not exceed 1.5%. For example, with the help of such dryers, you can get a soft, half-cured apple, as well as crispy apple chips,” notes Natalia Zelenskaya.
The expert also noted that today there are two types of convection dryers on the market – conveyor, multi-level continuous dryers, and static dryers (cabinets). The principle of operation in such machines is almost the same. The main difference is that in conveyor dryers, there is a continuous process of drying fruits, vegetables, berries, or other products. Such a machine should work without interruption for 3-4 days.
This drying method is used to minimize the consumable part. The greatest consumption of electricity and steam in industrial machines occurs when they are started, and then the dryers operate continuously. Accordingly, the longer the machine works, the lower the production cost.
Static machines carry out periodic drying of products. The process lasts 5-10 hours, depending on the product, its size, initial moisture content, and the product’s required final moisture content. Besides, these machines use more manual labor, since all products must be manually laid out on trays.
We add that more and more attention is paid to such parameters as food quality and safety every year. Therefore, by creating dried fruits of the highest quality, Ukraine can squeeze Asian products out of international markets. Moreover, the snack segment is now rapidly developing, especially when it comes to products made without sugar.
The demand for dried fruits and berries will grow every year among retail chains and suppliers of energy bars, muesli, and other healthy snacks.
In Ukraine, this niche is not occupied by anyone yet. However, in European countries such as Germany, Great Britain, and France, producers are effectively using the opportunity to make money on dried fruits and berries.
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