Industrial further processors can learn how to more efficiently disperse frozen herbs into vegetable blends, soups, sauces and other products by visiting the Herbafrost team at Stand B068 in Hall 4.1 of the Koelnmesse during Anuga.
“Some producers of value-added products are not able to maximize the use of IQF herbs because they sometimes are processing at temperature ranges in which the herbs defrost and stick on production line belts. We have found a solution for this problem that is being applied to a wide range of herbs,” Peter van Asten, managing director of the Hulshout, Belgium-headquartered company, told FrozenFoodsBiz.com (FFB). “It can be done with mixes as well. If a customer needs basil with dried tomatoes that won’t stick during production runs, we can do it.”
The managing director preferred not to go into too much detail about the form in which the frozen herbs will be supplied, as this is something better discussed face-to-face with clients. Certainly he was not keen on listing details for his competitors to read about before customers have been fully briefed on the benefits.
With freezing plants situated next to herb fields in Diksmuide-Vladslo as well as Hulshout, Herbafrost’s agricultural team keeps track of all aspects of production – from the selection of seeds to harvesting, processing, packaging and shipping. Its herbs, which range from basil and chervil to chives, coriander, dill, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and more, are processed immediately after being harvested. Organic sorrel was recently added to its expanding range of BRC-, IFS-, BLIK- and Biogarantie-certified products, which are typically distributed in 10kg and 15kg boxes.
The company ranks as the third largest producer and marketer of IQF herbs in Europe, not counting a few major frozen food players that produce exclusively for their own use. While the EU is its primary market, Herbafrost has been exporting further afield in recent years. Indeed, when FFB visited its premises in September preparations were being made for a visit from a retail buying team from Japan.
“This is a result of our exhibiting at FoodEx in Tokyo last year,” Mr. Van Asten explained. “We are now shipping containers of mixed herbs to them, and are hopeful that the business will grow further in the near term.”
When asked about the overall condition of the frozen herb market at the moment, the managing director expressed a positive attitude. “Last year there were some problems, because the growing season was not so good. This year it is much better, and we are quite optimistic.”
So much so, in fact, that Herbafrost plans to investments in new equipment to keep up with demand. “One the season is over, we intend to make upgrade. At the moment I am looking into new freezing equipment,” said Mr. Van Asten.