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Frozen Products

President: Giancarlo FOSCHI - OROGEL SURGELATI Soc. Coop. p.A., Secretary: Giorgio RIMOLDI

Frozen foods are food products that undergo a special freezing process called “deep freezing”, which makes it possible to exceed the temperature zone of maximum ice crystal formation at the necessary speed – depending on the nature of the product – and to continuously maintain the temperature, after thermal stabilisation, at -18 °C (or lower) throughout the product.
In terms of volumes, most frozen foods fall into 5 product segments: Vegetables, Potatoes, Fish products, Pizzas and Snacks, Recipes. Frozen food products are distributed to the consumer through 3 main channels: Retail; Catering; Door to Door.

  • History
  • Sectorial Statistics
  • HISTORY

    In 1928, American inventor Clarence Birdseye built the first industrial double-belt contact freezer, capable of significantly reducing cooling times. Birdseye, a native New Yorker, was also a naturalist, and while observing the fishing and food preservation practices common among the Inuit Eskimos (northern Canada), he realised a fundamental concept: by freezing freshly caught fish and then deep freezing it as quickly as possible, the organoleptic and nutritional qualities of the fresh product remained intact. On 6 March 1930, Birds Eye frozen food went on sale for the first time in a chain of stores in Springfield, Massachusetts, offering a selection of cod fillets and 17 other cuts of meat and fish, as well as fruit and vegetables such as spinach, peas (“as gloriously green as any you will see next summer”, as the advertisement promised), mixed berries, raspberries. They were met with huge success and have been extremely popular ever since.

    Europe
    In Europe, the frozen food industry developed substantially after World War II, when frozen foods entered homes in the form of a wide range of products: meat, fish, vegetables, fruit juices, etc.

    Italy
    In Italy, the frozen food culture arrived in the Sixties, gradually integrating with its most traditional styles of food thanks to the products being available year-round, quick to prepare, easy to store and economic, fully responding to the social, economic and cultural changes taking place in the country at the time. In 1960, the consumption of frozen foods in Italy only amounted to a few tonnes, whereas in 2018, more than 95.5 percent of Italian families were consuming frozen foods.

    SECTORAL STATISTICS

    In 2018, Italians consumed 838,500 tonnes of frozen food, with substantial stability compared to 2017 (841,500 tonnes), for an estimated market value of 4,200 / 4,500 million euros. This is thanks to the manufacturing companies’ continuous innovation, having understood new consumer needs by combining the evident demand for health/wellness with that of service/practicality, always focusing on the quality of the raw materials used.

    PRODUCTION PROCESS

    Frozen foods give consumers access to products that can, in many respects, be compared to the very best “fresh” foods, for two basic reasons:
    • the high-quality of the raw material, as a result of agreements between producers and companies in the frozen food sector;
    • the very short amount of time elapsing between the moment the product is obtained and freezing.
    Two examples: all vegetables are harvested at the moment of maximum ripeness: peas are frozen within two hours of harvesting; spinach between two and eight hours; fish is often frozen directly on the fishing boats, or transported to land at zero degrees, where it is processed and immediately frozen. This process ensures that frozen products retain not only their nutritional characteristics (vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, etc.), but also the structure and flavour of the original products.
    Once they reach a temperature of -18 °C (or lower), frozen products are subjected to the so-called “cold chain”: a series of strictly regulated procedures, regulations and techniques that ensure they are preserved in the best possible way, guaranteeing integrity and compliance with the highest safety standards throughout all the stages in the product’s life (transport, storage in the intermediate distribution structures, refrigerated counters in points of sale) until it is purchased by the final consumer.

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