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FoodTech Report

Volume 7 Issue 1

Processing technology prevents
critical product damage

By Michele Vitali Nari, sales director for JBT FoodTech

Across the Northern Hemisphere, tomatoes are an increasingly lucrative crop. More than 25 percent of tomatoes are produced specifically for the processing industry, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the United States alone, California’s tomato processors plan to contract 13.3 million tons of processing tomatoes in 2009, an increase of 15 percent from the 2008 contracted production, according to Tomato News.


A key ingredient in a variety of sauces and available in many forms, including ketchup and paste, tomatoes are the world’s leading vegetable for processing, according to FAO. But tomato processors — like most food companies — currently face challenges in market dynamics, increasing production costs and competition.

The Thermally Accelerated Short Time Evaporator (TASTE) technology from JBT FoodTech is one solution that has helped processors conserve cost and energy since it was introduced into the market. Learn more about TASTE technology and tomato processing in Vol. 5, Issue 1 of FoodTech Report.

A typical processor with a line output of 20 tons per hour of tomato paste can save more than $17,500 USD in electricity and nearly $200,000 USD in steam costs over the course of one tomato season (approximately 1,000 hours).

When it comes to paste production, processors achieve the lowest thermal damage when utilizing TASTE technology as a pre-evaporator, when the viscosity of the product is still low and completing the evaporation process with traditional forced circulation evaporation technology.

Less is more

The tomato’s color is heat-sensitive and is easily degraded when exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time. Concentration is typically achieved through water evaporation. So, one of the main challenges of tomato processing is to evaporate the water content quickly and with very specific changes in temperature.

In conventional tomato evaporators, processors repeatedly circulate the tomato juice in stages. The more it becomes concentrated, the more it is exposed to heat. One main problem with this technique is that the heat exposure can damage the product. Another is that inefficient use of steam makes the conventional system costly.

The TASTE Evaporator eliminates the need for juice recirculation during concentration, which minimizes the length of time heat is applied to the juice, resulting in better quality. This is achieved through a tubenest, which is a series of tubular heat exchangers in which water evaporation takes place in turbulent form for product concentration. Tubenests not only provide rapid heat transfer rates, but the heat exchangers provide process control to assure critical temperatures and hold times are achieved.

Results you can TASTE

In the tomato concentration process, tomato juice is introduced into the tubenest as a turbulent fog at accelerating speeds as fast as 435 mph (700 kph). With this technique, the heat transfer rate is several times higher than it would be if the juice was undergoing recirculation. The final concentration is then reached in the added forced circulation evaporator stage.


The tubenest heat exchanger feature of the TASTE Evaporator concentrates tomato juice without the need for recirculation techniques, which typically extends the amount of time the juice is exposed to heat and can compromise the quality of the end product.

JBT FoodTech guarantees live steam requirements not exceeding 0.127 kg of steam/1 kg of evaporated water in the TASTE models with eight-stage processes. The maximum operating temperature of the first stage of the process does not usually exceed 180°F, and product total holding time in this stage is less than three minutes. Using the TASTE Evaporator as a pre-evaporator in this way reduces the total operating costs and the overall concentrating time for tomato processors.

Tomato processors need solutions they can count on for energy savings without compromising quality, freshness and food safety. With TASTE technology, processors can prevent thermal damage and enhance the taste and color of their product — all while running operations at the highest efficiency.

To learn more about TASTE and tomato processing, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site.

©2009 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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