Appealing to both vegans/vegetarians and the growing number of consumers with Celiac Disease, food allergies and sensitivities, the demand for dairy-free, gluten-free products has grown exponentially.

In 2009, Vancouver-based Daiya Foods debuted its Cheddar Style and Mozzarella Style Shreds and quickly became the leading provider of non-dairy cheese. By nailing the combination of great taste and fabulous gooey texture, the processor quickly built a strong brand with a very loyal customer base. Daiya also recognized that there was pent-up demand for gourmet quality, dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free pizza, and the company’s premium pizza product was an instant hit.

As a result of demand, the processing facilities were quickly stretched to their limits. Daiya’s processing partner, Pace Foods & Product Development Ltd., of Langley, British Columbia, needed to revamp its freezing systems in order to increase capacity and efficiency.

“In order to increase the production of the Daiya pizza line, we knew we had to increase efficiency, however, we were challenged by space limitations in our existing facilities. We needed to be able to process more product in the same footprint,” says Sean Darrah, president of Pace Foods.

FPS, or Food Process Solutions, was brought in and worked closely with both Pace Foods and Daiya to design and manufacture a new freezing system. The solution had to increase capacity, decrease waste and improve hygiene all while ensuring the high quality product for which Daiya is well known.

FPS met the challenge of working in a very confined space by removing all unnecessary components and externally mounting the motors. A new double-drum spiral freezer was installed in the existing footprint at Pace’s facilities in Surrey, British Columbia.

FPS spiral freezers are available with conveyor belt widths from 16 inches (400 mm) up to 60 inches (1500 mm) and feature fully welded stainless steel enclosures. The freezers feature a floating frame, drum-drive system, externally mounted fan and drive motors, sanitary conveyor structure, inline tube evaporator architecture and a synchronized sequential defrost program. In addition, the spiral freezers also provide a high-efficiency, circulating clean-in-place system. The conveyors meet the demands of RTE products and are suitable for a wide range of products including pizza, meat, ready meals, poultry, bakery goods and seafood.

“The FPS design allowed us to fully automate the freezing process, which increased our capacity to 1,500 pizzas per hour, dropped our labor costs and improved hygiene,” says Darrah. “The new freezing system has us positioned well for future growth.”

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