McCain’s Smithton plant reduces environmental impact with new technology

McCain Foods has installed a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator at its Smithton plant in Tasmania.

According to the company, the PEF generator is another example of its commitment to producing more with less. The $1.8 million project, which incorporates McCain’s proprietary technology, results in potatoes being pulsed with an electric field rather than steamed, slashing the plant’s energy and water usage.

The plant – which operates 24 hours, seven days a week to process potatoes into a range of frozen chip – has reduced water usage this year by more than 100,000 litres per day, thanks to the technology.

The PEF system is also expected to save the plant approximately 276 tonnes of carbon each year and around 33,000 gigajoules of energy due to the increased efficiency and reduced wastage. In addition, the electric field that is pulsed through uncut potatoes results in less oil being absorbed when the potatoes are cooked.

The generator is also physically smaller than the old pre-heaters, saving space within the plant.

McCain Foods Smithton Plant Manager Gordon Gillies says adopting this new technology is fundamental to the company’s growth strategy and is an important step in reducing McCain’s environmental footprint and continuing to improve its sustainable practices.

“We’re really excited to implement this cutting-edge technology at Smithton, due to the working capabilities and environmental benefits it incorporates,” he says.

“This was an opportunity to set new benchmarks in our industry as we continue to focus on becoming even more environmentally responsible. This contributes to McCain’s global commitment to reducing CO2 emissions from our plants by 50 per cent by 2030.”

The propriety technology was deployed at McCain Foods’ Timaru plant in New Zealand late last year as a region-first. The Smithton plant halted production on 26 January this year to install the PEF generator, before resuming on 25 February and returning to full production.

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