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Many segments of the $38.5 billion U.S. pizza market depend on chilling or freezing technology, and the quality of the process rises in importance with throughput. Linde LLC, an innovator in cryogenic solutions for the food industry, is helping producers harness the technology to reach new markets with better process quality at high production rates.

Cryogenic technology involves either liquid nitrogen (N2) or carbon dioxide (CO2) and can be used to chill flour or toppings, crust-freeze pizza dough, IQF toppings, and freeze pizza crust and topped pizzas. “Numerous regional players, pizza chains and frozen pizza manufacturers are leveraging our proprietary technologies to scale up production or to satisfy regional ethnic trends,” says Erik Fihlman, Program Manager, Baking and Prepared Foods, Linde LLC. (See chart.)

Cryogenic freezers are growing in importance in particular for the $4.3 billion frozen pizza category, now populated with many mid-size and regional players, including pizza restaurants and those selling local favorites and topping combinations to area supermarkets and retailers.

“When competition intensifies or pizza business grows,
our cryogenic solutions can help successful companies
put a greater emphasis on quality.”

– Erik Fihlman, Program Manager, Baking & Prepared Foods, Linde LLC

Freeze quality is also essential when manufacturing for shipment nationwide. For example, Linde helped one pizza producer increase volume with a freezer that uses a direct spray of N2 to ensure toppings are firmly frozen to pizzas and frost-free, before final packaging. To extend shelf life and give a premium look to pizzas, the company uses Linde modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) gases (either N2 or CO2) to flush oxygen from bags. Other quality benefits include the elimination of sauce ‘bleed through’.

Pizza Toppings, Too
“Our cryogenic technology delivers a high-quality freeze for higher productivity, and offers flexibility for adding new line capacity, or adapting to multiple products which require shorter runs with frequent change outs. With the proliferation of specialty pizzas, cryogenic freezers can also boost productivity by individually quick freezing (IQF) cooked toppings,” Fihlman said.

He noted that hygienically designed freezers also contribute to food safety efforts and can reduce time for cleaning and maintenance.

The Linde portfolio for in-line production of pizzas, crusts or toppings includes these proprietary freezers:

  • Linde Impingement freezer. This impingement freezer uses an initial blast of liquid N2 to crust-freeze the surface, then impinges items with a controlled flow of N2 from above and below the conveyor belt. It can typically process about 30 percent more than a cryogenic tunnel freezer of the same length at significantly lower operating costs.
  • CRYOLINE® CW (CRYOWAVE®) freezer. This modular tunnel freezer can easily switch between individually quick freezing toppings, and fully freezing pizzas or pizza crusts. A patented rolling-wave action on the conveyor belt helps keep IQF items separate as they are individually quick frozen.
  • CRYOLINE® XF Spiral (cross-flow) freezer. The patented cross-flow spiral freezer design provides more even temperatures across the width of the conveyor belt for more consistent freeze quality. It can typically boost throughput 10 percent or more compared to a standard box spiral freezer at increased N2 efficiencies. 

The above are just a few examples of solutions that can be tailored to specific plant requirements.

For operations with storage silos, Linde offers the ACCU-CHILL® dry ingredient chilling system which cryogenically chill pizza flour, spices or other ingredients as they flow to the mixer. The system controls ingredient temperature within 1ºF of the set point at the mixer to speed processing and improve repeatability of mixing, dough-blending and forming operations.

Cryogenic Technology Helps Pizza Makers Hit Hot Targets
Regional, Ethnic and Specialty Pizza Styles
New York-style, Deep-dish Chicago-style, Mexican/Southwest, Greek/Mediterranean Neapolitan-style, New York-Naples hybrids, Margherita, stuffed crust
Health and Dietary Pizza Trends
Organic ingredients, multi-grain flour, gluten-free dough, thin crust, mini-pizzas, reduced-fat pizzas and toppings such as diced chicken, turkey pepperoni, or chicken sausage crumble
Specialty Pizza Toppings
Trending: Hawaiian (ham and pineapple), Philly cheesesteak, buffalo chicken, jalapeño; plus a plethora of topping combinations, including multiple cheeses

The Linde food team performs in-plant assessments, conducts trial production runs at the Linde Technology Center, and works with processors to develop optimal process solutions. For more information, visit Linde: www.lindefood.com, or call 800-755-9277. 

Linde LLC supports the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and the advancement of food safety. Linde has a Food Safety Management System in place for all bulk CO2 plants and air separation facilities supplying the food & beverage industry in North America. In June 2012, Linde became the first supplier to certify all of its CO2 plants to a benchmarked GFSI scheme, FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification).

About Linde LLC in North America
Linde LLC is a member of The Linde Group. In the 2015 financial year, The Linde Group generated revenue of USD 19.7 bn (EUR 17.944 bn), making it one of the leading gases and engineering companies in the world, with approximately 65,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

For more information, visit www.lindeus.com
Linde Contact:

Amy Ficon
Corporate Communications
908-771-1491, Fax 908-771-1460
amy.ficon@linde.com

Vinita Abraham
Corporate Communications
908-771-1366
vinita.abraham@linde.com