The multibillion filtration market in the food industry includes a number of technologies designed to meet environmental regulations. It also includes filters used in food manufacturing processes. One requirement includes purifying air prior to exhausting it from stacks. This can involve either fabric filters or scrubbers or both depending on whether the contaminant is particulate, gas or a combination. Electrostatic precipitators are an alternate means of particulate removal but have limited use in the food industry. An exception would be a food plant with coal-fired boilers. Thermal oxidizers that combust odorous or harmful gases are also in limited use. Cyclones are used to separate large particles from the air stream.
Fabric filters also have a role in product recovery. For example, a coffee slurry is injected into a hot gas stream in a spray dryer. The powdered coffee is then captured in a downstream fabric filter. A third role is to purify and recycle plant air. Fabric filters differ from HVAC filters in that they are equipped with a cleaning mechanism. In a sugar factory where sticky dusts quickly plug HVAC filters, in-plant dust collectors play an important role.
Many technologies are used to purify liquids in the food industry. Cartridges are used to purify water used in food processing and are also used to purify juices and other liquids. They are not cleanable and are therefore relegated to purifying products with low levels of particulate. Crossflow membranes are used to remove small particles from food liquids and water where the solids content is modest. They would be preceded by a macrofiltration device if there are large amounts of solids to be removed. Clarifiers and centrifuges are also used to purify liquids with large amounts of solids.
World’s largest food companies
Three-hundred international food companies will account for 50 percent of the filtration purchases by the industry. They will also influence the purchasing decisions made by the smaller companies. Since their purchases are predictable, it is possible to build the primary sales program around accurate forecasts of their "new, replace and repair" expenditures.
Six of these companies will account for just under 10 percent of the total filtration purchases over the next five years. The industry will spend $ 2.8 billion per year while the top six purchasers will spend more than $260 million. See Table 1.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA is based in Belgium and is the world’s largest brewer and sixth-largest purchaser of filtration products.
Nestle SA is the world’s largest food and beverage company and largest purchaser of filtration products. It has more than 2,000 brands and is present in 189 countries.
Nestle will spend $57 million for food filtration next year. This includes automatic back wash filters, which are needed for chocolate macrofiltration. Automatic backwash filters (see top photo) represent less than 10 percent of the macrofiltration total. Filter presses and bag filters each represent 25 percent. Leaf filters, drum filters, gravity belt filters and granular media filters are the other categories included in this segment.
JBS SA is a Brazilian company, which is the largest (by sales) meat processing company in the world, producing factory-processed beef, chicken and pork, and also selling byproducts from the processing of these meats. The processes require both air and liquid filtration. For example, liquid filtration is used to purify blood products, which are then spray-dried and captured in fabric filters. Wastewater treatment of facilities used to grow animals requires substantial filtration expenditures.
The Kraft Heinz Co. is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world. Cheese manufacturing requires significant investments in centrifuges and crossflow filtration.
Tyson Foods Inc. has expanded from chicken to a number of food products. Filtration is needed throughout the cycle from poultry feed to poultry raising to food processing.
Many food companies are embracing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Remote monitoring of the filtration performance in all their plants allows them to centralize purchasing and make decisions based on lowest total cost of ownership. As a result, a few people at each one of the 300 largest food companies will make 50 percent of the filtration purchasing decisions. This creates a unique opportunity for direct sales by filtration suppliers. The first step is the determination of the future purchases by each large prospect.