Asia Pacific Embraces Healthier Way to Process Food
Denver, CO, October 30, 2016 — The Australian government has announced a $7.2 million investment into improving food processing technology using the microwave processing systems sold by 915 Labs, beginning with a pilot-scale plant to be placed in the Defence Food and Nutrition Centre in Scottsdale, Tasmania.
“Microwave food processing can revolutionize the quality of packaged food,” said Prof Roger Stanley, Director of the Centre for Food Innovation at the University of Tasmania. “The technology gives us the ability to deliver food that is much closer to fresh.”
Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS™) and Microwave Assisted Pasteurization (MAPS™) systems manufactured and sold by 915 Labs offer a faster way to sterilize or pasteurize food and beverages. By shortening the time food is exposed to high heat, the microwave technology can preserve nutrients, texture and taste and eliminate the need for additives and additional sodium.
“Microwave sterilized meals have the potential to improve the production and quality of ready-made foods across both Defence rations and the wider commercial market, both nationally and within the Asia-Pacific region,” said Australia’s Senator Marise Payne, Minister for Defence in announcing the investment.
The Australian investment in MATS followed a feasibility study undertaken by the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group in cooperation with Australian industry and the Centre for Food Innovation, a collaboration of DST Group the University of Tasmania and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
“We determined that bringing MATS to Australia was not only worthwhile for Defence but for food manufacturing in general,” said Ross Coad, Acting Group Leader – Food & Nutrition Land Division, Defence Science and Technology Group. “Tasmania is renowned for its clean and green agriculture industry and the new MATS technology has the potential to create an innovative new food production sector that benefits for local producers and consumers.”
The Australian government plans to use the pilot-scale MATS system to develop new and improved ration packs for its Defence forces. The government will also make the MATS pilot-scale machine available to food companies for product development and experimentation.
“It makes sense for the military and industry to work together because it is important to establish an industry base for the new technology before Defence can make use of it,” said Coad. “Our investment de-risks the capital investment for industry and gives food companies the opportunity to explore the opportunities offered by MATS.”
“By giving small-to-medium size companies access to this innovation, we can help the regional hospitality and institutional food industries and improve the quality of emergency disaster relief rations,” Prof. Stanley added.
In addition to the Australian sale, 915 Labs has sold MATS systems in the U.S., India, Singapore and South Korea.
“There is much interest in MATS in the Asia Pacific region,” said Mike Locatis, CEO of 915 Labs. “I recently visited New Zealand and we’ll have a team in Thailand in January meeting with food companies, conglomerates and government officials, all of whom are looking for ways to improve the quality of packaged foods and to create added value for agricultural exports.”
In the United States, food companies are developing and testing recipes on pilot-scale MATS systems.
“The consumer packaged goods companies that originally rallied behind the development of the technology are eager to launch MATS-processed products,” said Mike Locatis, CEO, 915 Labs. “Food processing with MATS will change the global dynamics of food distribution by enabling companies and food entrepreneurs to ship high quality products direct to consumer.”
915 Labs is the exclusive provider of MATS and MAPS, which were originally developed at Washington State University with funding from the U.S. Army and major food companies. The company offers pilot-scale and commercial production scale systems capable of producing up to 250 packages per minute.