Food processing and food processing equipment makers are embracing autoclaves to make the process of cooking food more efficient and safer, according to a survey by the National Association of Food Processing Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM).
The survey, which surveyed more than 4,200 manufacturing and food service companies in September, found that nearly half of manufacturers surveyed use autoclaved meat or poultry in their food processing operations.
In addition, nearly half said they use autoclavatories in some or all of their production processes, including meat processing, poultry processing, seafood processing, and cheese production.
Autoclaves are currently available in some restaurants, and in a number of grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.
The NAFEM survey found that autoclaving has been the fastest-growing category for equipment manufacturers since the recession began.
About 7 percent of manufacturers said they had an autoclava in their plant, and a similar percentage reported having one or more in their facilities.
NAFE found that, as of March 2018, nearly 2,800 manufacturers had autoclavatories, up from about 1,500 in 2014.
Nearly 70 percent of the manufacturers surveyed said they have been developing and selling autoclasts for about 10 years or more, with a large share of these being in the manufacturing space.
For manufacturers, the popularity of autoclashes is partly driven by demand.
About 90 percent of industry members surveyed said that the price of autoclaves has been dropping as more people become interested in cooking with the machines, which is helping to drive demand.
Nafem’s survey also found that many of the largest manufacturers are investing heavily in automation in their production lines and processes, which could make the need for autocloves more important.
Nearly one-third of manufacturers reported that they had spent at least $10,000 on automated processes over the past three years.
More than half of these firms said that automation was one of the key factors driving their investment in automated processes, followed by automation and automation integration, according the NAFem survey.
For these industries, automation and its ability to reduce the need to use the autoclasty could potentially be a significant advantage for the industry.
The majority of manufacturers who responded to the survey said they would likely invest at least some of their annual manufacturing capacity in automation over the next five years, with about two-thirds of the manufacturing industry in the process.
NAAFPM is an industry trade group representing manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other food processing and service providers.
For more information, visit www.nafem.org.
For a complete list of the NAAFEM survey participants, visit the National Automated Food Processors Association’s web site at www.ncfm.org/research.