The cold food chain relies on constant refrigeration (requiring a constant input of fossil fuel energy) to preserve food. In the dry food chain, however, no additional energy is needed for preservation once food is dried, as long as it is kept sealed. The dry food chain thus appears to be the most sustainable and cost-effective method to reliably preserve and distribute foods, especially by small and mid-size growers and processors.
Current Methods: Energy Intensive or Low Quality
While drying foods is an age-old preservation method practiced in all cultures around the world, it is currently one of the most energy-intensive processes in food production, with one-third of all the energy for food drying being supplied by fossil fuels.
Small and mid-size growers all around the world, in both developed and developing countries, are greatly affected by high energy prices, and hence still use age-old open sun drying methods to dehydrate their crops. They often use unrefined tools such as wooden trays, woven baskets, tarps, metal racks, or other do-it-yourself platforms.
Unfortunately, crops dried in the open air in this manner are exposed to the elements (dust, vehicle exhaust fumes, or livestock feces, for example). They often suffer from quality issues, preventing growers from meeting the stringent quality standards that reap market premiums.
In the U.S., the recent passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act has put more pressure and constraints on small and mid-size growers of specialty crops (including fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants, and more), who comprise about one million growers. And in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, about 525 million smallholder farmers produce 80% of the food for their populations and for export.
The Need for Modern, Efficient Drying Methods
These growers, in both developed and developing nations, need modern, energy-efficient crop dehydration technologies to meet growing demand for food in these regions. JUA Technologies’ mission is to meet this need with efficient, multi-purpose, smart dehydration devices powered by renewable energy.