Global effort delivers technology to enhance the cooking processes

Most major food safety authorities around the world are aware of acrylamide and its potential health danger to consumers and it has now become a growing concern for snack food manufacturers.

Snack food producers are challenged with finding ways to reduce acrylamide formation during frying without making fundamental changes to their manufacturing process, and without compromising on taste or quality.

To meet this challenge, food processors looked to equipment suppliers, such as Heat and Control, to work with them to develop equipment solutions for potatoes.

A global collaboration
In one such collaboration, Australia-, US- and the UK-based Heat and Control teams worked with a European snack processor and a Swedish tech company ScandiNova to bring to market a solution that has enhanced the cooking process. It made the reduction of acrylamide possible and provided potato processers with a host of valuable additional benefits including improved yield and product quality, increased line efficiency and reduced operational cost.

It came about after research and development, the result of which was an equipment solution that would apply Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) processing to potatoes prior to manufacturing in order to reduce acrylamide. This solution became the E-FLO system, by Heat and Control.

The science of PEF
PEF is a unique non-thermal method of inactivating microorganisms, including many common food pathogens, without heating the product to the usual pasteurisation temperatures.

The destruction or inactivation of the microorganism is achieved by the breakdown of the microorganism’s cell membranes during exposure to electric fields.

PEF has previously been used in the food industry with juices, wine and olives as a means for sterilisation, preservation and for retaining nutritional values.

Heat and Control’s innovation was by the use of this method in a new application and for a different purpose.

For potatoes processors, the use of PEF treatment delivers cell disintegration, in place of the preheater operation. In this application, pulsed electrical fields create micro-pores in cell membranes, which enable the loss of primarily of liquid contents such as asparagine and reducing sugars but not starch loss. Structural and textural changes are also realised, reducing wear on cutting blades, increasing line yield and reducing water usage.

The benefits of this processing method have seen food processors across various industries incorporate this technology into their processing lines.

A January 2020 report by Technavio stated the global food industry PEF systems market is poised to grow to more than $325 million during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of about 24 per cent during the forecast period.

Developing E-FLO to deliver PEF
Partnering with ScandiNova, a provider of solid-state, high-power pulse modulators and RF systems, Heat and Control developed the patent-protected E-FLO Electroporation System to deliver the PEF process to the new product of whole potatoes and with the overall goal of reducing acrylamide levels in potato chips.

The technology worked by sending PEF through the cell walls of the potatoes to perforate cell membranes with microscopic holes.

This allowed sugars and asparagine to be released from the vegetable before it was cooked, thereby reducing the harmful acrylamide.

The process
Peeled and washed potatoes are supplied in measured quantities by upstream equipment and delivered to the E-FLO infeed chute.

The rotating E-FLO wheel transports the potatoes through the processing area as a compact, packed bed through a water bath.

Processing takes place in a water bath so that the electrical pulses can influence the product as desired. After a short exposure to the electric field pulses, to perforate the cell walls, the potatoes are lifted and discharged from the water bath by the continuing rotation of the wheel into the discharge chute. The potato then continues down the production line where greater amounts of sugars and asparagine can be removed during the slicing and washing stages.

In the case of the European snack processor, E-FLO saw excellent results with a reduction of acrylamide in its potato chips. As have other E-FLO installations, with some processors experiencing a reduction of acrylamide (in most cases) by over 50 per cent in their potato chips.

The E-FLO had met the original goal of reducing acrylamide while ensuring no degradation to the original taste and texture of the product. To the delight of the Heat and Control design team, the technology was able to offer other benefits.

Lower processing costs
In addition to reduced acrylamide formation, the use of PEF technology in the E-FLO system was shown to also provide yield savings with faster processing of the potatoes, cutting improvements for a longer blade life and lower oil content in the final product.

Aside from reducing acrylamide and creating a healthier product, other benefits of using electroporation included increased line efficiency and reduced operation cost. In addition to a return on capital investment due to increased yields processors enjoyed the following benefits:
• Reduced acrylamide allowed them to meet EU legislation.
• Reduced preparation time, water and energy usage.
• Less blanching – electroporation allows the tissue of potatoes to become more permeable removing the need for blanching before cooking. With less blanching, starch loss was avoided and yield was increased
• Reduced wear and tear of slicing blades – slicing thousands of potatoes daily results in dull slicer blades. PEF processing softens the tissue of the potato, allowing blades to slice between the cells of the potato rather than through them. This lessens the pressure and friction on tools, which equates to less down time and longer equipment life.
• Reduced oil use – slicing between the cells of the potato also produces a smoother chip surface. A smoother surface means the chip absorbs less oil, which significantly reduces oil expenditure in the long run.
• Health benefits – PEF treatment typically reduces fat content of the final potato by two to three per cent. This is due to increased starch content in the outer cell layers of the potato slices and smoother surface after cutting, which enhances the oil drip-off effect after frying.

This creates a more desirable, crunchier and premium product.

Today, the European snack processor continues to use the E-FLO to produce its potato chips with less acrylamide and meet EU regulations. The E-FLO Electroporation system is an example of innovative technology made in Australia with the help of global partners.
The right partner

Reduction of acrylamide is an important issue and one that industry is beginning to embrace on a global scale, regardless of regulation.

Potato processing is a significant investment and the key to success is choosing a supplier who can work with a company to meet their objectives.

The right partner can create a line that meets performance, quality, and efficiency targets from the outset.

Importantly, the total cost of ownership, rather than the individual cost of single pieces of equipment, should be considered.

Manufacturer can offer bespoke solutions for food industry

For more than 40 years, Victorian-based Enmin has been building custom vibratory and material handling solutions for a myriad of applications and environments.

The company’s knowledge and expertise in this area has seen their list of customers grow to include most of Australia’s leading food industry manufacturers.

Enmin’s range of product handling and vibratory equipment includes the Mi-CON modular conveyor – a hygienically designed full wash-down system to offer multiple standardised components – plus a range of hopper feeders and screeners, spiral conveyors, conditioning conveyors and more.

“All our products are designed and constructed first and foremost to meet the rigorous requirements of the food and pharmaceutical industries such as maximum hygiene, ease of cleaning and the reliability essential to meet the demands of continuous 24/7 operation,” said Enmin general manager, Anthony Gallaher.

Over the years, the company has earned an enviable reputation for designing and building equipment to the highest standards using the finest materials  to provide complete reliability and longevity.

Supporting other local manufacturers is a priority for Enmin and the company currently purchases 304 stainless steel, various steel and plastic machined parts, castings, coils and electrical components as well as outsourcing their laser cutting, all domestically.

Gallaher sees several benefits to customers of purchasing Enmin’s locally made equipment. These include the ability to offer individual design and customisation, expert local advice, consistency of supply and outstanding back-up and support.

In many cases Enmin is the only Australian company manufacturing specific material handling components.“We are the only company manufacturing electromagnetic drives in Australia and our many years in application experience will ensure the right drive is nominated for the tray requirements and process,” he said.

“Our equipment is designed to provide years of trouble-free operation with minimal moving parts, next to no on-going maintenance and, best of all, low energy consumption. All this ensures a reliable, low-cost method of product handling,” said Gallaher.

“Customisation is an important part of our business; depending on a customer’s requirement we can recommend either standard equipment components or design bespoke equipment,” Mr Gallaher added.

“A recent example was a requirement for a hopper feeder where the depositing system dictated a height that would be unergonomic for the production line staff to easily and safely access the storage hopper. Using our design expertise and state-of-the-art software, we designed a mobile unit with retractable operator steps. When not required, these steps can be folded out of the way quickly and with very little effort thanks to pressurised struts on each side,” Gallaher said.

“Another benefit of being a local manufacturer is being able to see first-hand a customer’s existing production line set-up to ensure our equipment will integrate seamlessly with other components already in place. We can ensure that mechanical components fit with minimal or no modifications and electrical interfaces are all talking to each other,” Gallaher said.

“There are many pieces of non-branded equipment brought in from overseas and these often need replacement parts; this is where our knowledge and expertise also comes into play to ensure that the right part is specified,” Gallaher went on to say.

“And of course, being a local manufacturer means we are only a quick phone call away to immediately respond to any customer query or provide service and parts support throughout Australia,” he added.

Enmin also invests heavily in R&D to provide Australian manufacturers with the latest developments in materials handling solutions and improve production efficiencies.

An example of this is Enmin’s design and development of a range of modular components. “The key benefit of modular components is that it eliminates equipment redundancy and expands with the customer’s business. It can be added to, extended and modified in the years ahead as a company’s production needs evolve,” said Gallaher.

“Whilst lower cost equipment from overseas may initially seem an attractive proposition, it is ultimately false economy. In the long term delivery turnaround, the ability to work closely with us during every phase of the project combined with the quality, reliability and opportunity to easily add to or modify years later as production needs change, far outweighs any price difference. In terms of return on investment, there is simply no comparison,” said Gallaher.

Enmin also has a range of Industrial vibrators to suit any industry that handles bulk material. The range is designed to suit Australia’s environment and covers a multitude of applications such as mining, quarrying and agriculture.

Keeping spirits high: brewing in a niche market

The 2019 Australian Craft Beer Survey results backed up what a lot of anecdotal evidence has shown over the past five years – Australian consumers like their craft beer. The survey showed that the attitude of 68 per cent of those surveyed towards the regular release of new/limited beers was ‘exciting and shows the creativity of breweries’, while only 5 per cent thought it ‘reduces the quality of beer’.

Craft brewing has been around since beer was invented, however as a brand becomes more popular and moves into the mainstream, it loses the moniker. In modern times, Western Australia’s Matilda Bay is considered the first in the renaissance of craft beer when it was launched in 1984.

The average craft beer drinker is aged between 30 and 49, while unsurprisingly the Eastern states make up 86 per cent of all craft beer drinkers. It is a business that is not only flourishing but attracting new start-ups at a fast rate.

Peter Philip is chairman of the Independent Brewing Association (IBA), and founder of the Wayward Brewing Co. The IBA has more than 500 members and is a fierce advocate of the industry, which is currently growing at the rate of one new brewery opening every six days.

“The craft movement started because people were looking for something different,” he said. “I don’t particularly think that is a new trend. It has been a trend for the past 50 years that craft brewers tapped into and that is what created the whole craft industry.

“It is a segment that is a major growth area and really resonates with rural and regional Australians. They are bringing a whole new beverage to country towns. Country towns are thirsty places so people are really getting behind those small breweries.”

Acquisitions
Some have been so successful, they have been bought by some of the bigger players. Carlton & United Breweries’ (CUB) acquisitions over the past couple of years include 4 Pines, Pirate Life, the award-winning, Mick Fanning-backed Balter and its initial purchase of the aforementioned Matilda Bay Brewing in 1990, which has closed and opened on different sides of the continent.

“We opened the Matilda Bay microbrewery in Healesville, Victoria late last year, with the father of craft beer in Australia, Phil Sexton,” said Julian Sheezel, vice-president of corporate affairs for CUB.

Another major brewer, Lion bought Little Creatures but tends to start up its own craft beer brands from its Malt Shovel subsidiary, including its James Squire range.
For some younger consumers, they will be hard-pressed to know that such a well-known brand as Hahn’s started out a boutique beer. And while founder, Chuck Hahn might not be the father of craft beer, he could claim the title of grandfather. Approaching his 50th year in the business, starting out at Coors in the US, Hahn is now the Brew Master at Lion and shows no signs of slowing down. He has some nostalgic memories of those days gone by.

He even helped revive one of the original craft brands that was established on the east coast in the 1980s.

“We’ve been developing authentic brands rather than going out and buying,” he said. “The Hahn brewery was one of the first craft breweries on the east coast, along with Power Burning Company, which was born in 1988 along with the Eumundi Brewery started by John Lynch up on the Sunshine Coast.

“Ten years ago, Lion was able to buy the trademark for Eumundi and about a year ago we put a small brewery back in to the same motel – the Imperial Hotel just across the way from the Eumundi markets – and we rebirthed that brand. We eventually convinced our marketing department to develop the brand and that is what we have done.”

While some brewers are happy to rest on their laurels and find a niche in their local country town, shire or even city, a lot of companies – Balter being the latest example – are looking for the big pay day when one of the bigger brewers can no longer ignore their presence.

What does a multi-national brewer look for when buying up a smaller player?

“Businesses we’ve purchased have all had great people, great products and enormous potential,” said Sheezel. “We look for businesses whose owners are passionate about making great beverages and are committed to creating value not only for both parties but also for our customers across the country.”

There have been many ups and downs in the industry. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, data showed that just over 250,000 businesses were deregistered from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission between July 2017 and June 30 2018. In other words a lot of businesses fail. The specialty beverage space is no different. Many players believe that the state and federal governments could do more to help.

A taxing time
If you talk to Philip and Hahn, they believe that the craft brewers in particular have it a little harder as they are treated differently from the big players.

“Australia is one of the highest taxed countries for beer and alcohol,” said Philip. “We’re contributing more than our fair share to the tax coffers. Over half the production cost of the beer is tax – more than we are paying for the malt; more than we are paying for the hops; more than we are paying our staff. It is our single biggest ‘supplier’ that we are having to pay. We’re overweight in terms of what we are paying compared to other countries.”

Hahn concurs.

“Australian alcohol is taxed almost more than most other places in the world. Excise is based on your alcohol level,” he said. “We’re paying over $2 a litre in tax, even more so if it is more than 5 per cent alcohol. In the US it is a about one tenth of that – about $0.20 a litre. Excise tax is the biggest single cost to making beer. It’s crazy. You might use $1 a litre or $1.5 a litre for all your malted barley and hops and processing, but not $2 a litre. People don’t realise that and the excise just went up again. It goes up every six months.”

There has been some relief thanks to lobbying of the IBA and its predecessor the Craft Brewers Industry Association (CBIA), according to Hahn.

“This is something we fought for in the CBIA and finally got the government to allow the smaller breweries to claim back $30,000 a year on excise,” he said. “Further lobbying by the IBA got it up to $100,000. That has helped smaller brewers exist. It doesn’t hide the fact that Australia pays more money to the government than almost any other country in the world.”

CUB’s Sheezel also believes it is an issue that needs addressing.

“Australians now pays one of the highest beer taxes in the developed world, much higher than the UK, NZ, the US and Germany,” he said. “Beer should not be a luxury – it’s the drink for the everyday Australian. Given the sensible approach shown to alcohol consumption by the vast majority of Australians, the high tax slug on Australians is just not right.”

A matter of choice
One of the key issues that is always on the drawing board is how sustainable is the industry? With a brewery opening up every six days, won’t there become a saturation point somewhere? Depends on who you talk to. Under the right conditions, Sheezel believes it is sustainable.

“Australian beer lovers have more beers to choose from than ever before,” said Sheezel. “We believe any brewery that will brew consistently high-quality, small-batch beers in an environmentally sustainable way can expect to be sustainable.”

The IBA does see a bit of a David and Goliath situation playing out between its members and the bigger brewers. As well as the tax issue, he believes that the government should examine the tap contracts the bigger breweries have with hotels and bars, which he believes are not as fair as they could be towards the smaller brewers. He said that the craft brewers get on well together and back each other up – not just in trying to gain marketshare, but in the more practical aspects of making their favourite tipple.

“There’s an amazing camaraderie in the industry. Small, independent brewers help each other every day,” he said. “We don’t view each other so much as competitors, we view each other as co-partners in building an industry. Most days of the week I’ll get a call from somebody saying, ‘I’m short a bag of grain, can I borrow one off you?’ And they come on over and grab it. That is the kind of industry we are in.”

But with a lot of craft beers now becoming mainstream, isn’t it an industry that will slowly become the norm anyway? There are also aforementioned beers like Hahn and Balter that are now mainstream or about to become so. Philip pulls out an interesting statistics that shows that there is still a gulf – whether it gets bigger or not, only time will tell.

“Large brewers own 94 per cent of the market and have virtually unlimited access to capital and they can use that to automate their processes to a massive extent,” he said. “We are 6 per cent of volume but employ 47 per cent of all the people in the industry. It shows how automated they are, and how much of a craft industry we are. It truly is hand-crafted products and that has a cost implication. Our operating costs and production costs are massively higher than the multi-nationals.”

Distilleries
And it’s not just beer where boutique beverages are making a splash. The spirit space is also making waves and not just in Australia.

Mr Black is a high-end coffee liqueur that is distilled in New South Wales’ Central Coast. It was started by Thomas Baker and Phillip Moore and was borne out of a gap in the market that both men saw.

“Philip was so excited when he met Tom at the distillery. Together, they collaborated, started a company, and after two iterations, released Mr Black,” said the company’s operations manager Rick Roper.

In 2014, Mr Black went on to win a gold medal award at the London Spirit Show as the finest in its category and has consistently won international awards since that time.

“They launched the product in the UK not long after developing it, and in a relatively short period of time it has become the leading coffee liqueur in both of those markets,” said Roper. “In 2017, it was launched in the US and is now the biggest selling Australian spirit in the US. Although it is Australian based, it is expanding globally. It is continued to manufactured at Distillery Botanica. It is highly regarded. It’s blended with a high-quality grain spirit and is crafted into Mr Black. It is sold through on and off premises. It’s now also now being distributed through the Asia Pacific.”

Then there is Bryon Bay Slow Gin (see story page 36 of this issue), that uses the Davidson Plum as its main ingredient.

The plum is a native of Australia, and something that co-founder of the Cape Byron Distillery, Eddie Brook, sees as something that all spirit producers can embrace and make them a point of difference in the world market.

The company also produces a macadamia nut and roasted wattle seed liqueur.
“You get this rich butterscotch, toffee, toasted nut flavour, almost coffee and dark cacao notes coming through as well,” Brook said. “It has been a really great addition. Later this year we will be releasing a few other spirits around the native fruit-infused line in particular.”

The future
Overall the niche beverage industry is expanding and there are a slew of distilleries and breweries popping up all over the country. What is the advice from some of those who have already made the journey to those that are starting out?

“One thing I would say about brewing is that cleanliness is next to godliness,” said Hahn. “Any problems that are associated with brewing are usually housekeeping and in hygiene.
“The next is you have to deliver on consistent, quality favour. If the beer looks flat, then it doesn’t look appealing. If it doesn’t look appealing, then you need to work on presentation.

“Finally, you have to have the brewer out there talking about the beer. That is something that I have always done.

“I used to have three or four beer dinners a month at various hotels to get Australians to taste beer rather than just drink it. It’s more about tasting rather than slamming it down. I say slam it down slowly and savour the flavour, which leads to responsible drinking, which is what the craft element is about.”

Sheezel sees a few trends coming through that are not just about beverages themselves but where they come from.

“Over the past five years we have seen an increase in mid-strength beers sales, the demand for a greater variety of beers and more demand for beer in cans and we expect these trends to continue in coming years,” he said. “Consumers are increasingly consumption-conscious, and interested in what goes in to their products. Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability, a focus that will only intensify in coming years.

“We also believe drinkers will place a greater premium on convenience, so that they can enjoy drinks in much the same way beer has traditionally been enjoyed.”

The last word is left to Philip, who despite some of the challenges, loves the industry.
“It is enormously satisfying to deal with people who have fun and enjoy the product that they create,” he said.

“We are being creative in how we come up with new products and how we engage with customers. And this is why the public respond like they do to independent beers because we’re giving them an experience that they can’t get from some of the mainstream beers.”

Why batching is crucial when it comes to brewing

The art of brewing a fine beer demands time and patience. Equally important, selecting the right processing equipment will ensure that the taste is always as expected.

Although the craft beer market in Australia is still new, the beer brewing industry is expanding rapidly across the country. As reported by The Independent Brewers Association, local brewers are a small but increasingly significant part of the $6.5 billion Australian retail beer market, not to mention that the number of smalls breweries in Australia has remarkably increased in recent years, with a new brewery opening every 6 days. According to Craft Beer Reviewer, a body that provides data about craft beer breweries in Australia, there are more than 690 craft beer breweries in the country; and just since 2017, the Australian beer market has seen the launch of 230 new breweries nationwide. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are the biggest contributors with a total number of 494 craft beer breweries shared among them.

For microbreweries who pride themselves with producing unique and personalised flavours of beer, any slight change made to production process whether it is the ingredients used or the cooking time, could have unfortunate consequences for a particular and distinguished taste. To ensure that the taste is always as desired, it is critical to have the right equipment to accurately measure and batch the correct amount of ingredients with perfection.

JSG Industrial Systems has introduced into the Australian beer brewing market the Flomec G2 Stainless Steel Flowmeter. A cost-effective yet reliable fluid meter designed to suit a variety of brewery installations. Breweries report that using the Flomec G2 meter improves the quality of beer by making each batch consistent and highly controlled, which is considered one of the most critical procedures during the brewing process.

This reliable flow meter is highly accurate with an inbuilt display unit that does not require power to operate, which simplifies the production process greatly and enables seamless operation. The Flomec G2 is suitable for a variety of batching applications as it is available in different sizes to suit various process lines. The reasons to why this accurate and reliable meter is finding a perfect fit in breweries across Australia are due to the fact that it is quite a cost-effective solution suitable for any type of brewery, offers excellent fluid compatibility in the brewing process, and it’s easily removed, cleaned and maintained.

JSG Industrial Systems designs, develops, and supplies engineered industrial systems which increase assets lifetime, reduce operational risk and contribute to environmental sustainability. The company provides access to products and services for a variety of global sectors including food & beverage, mining, transportation, agriculture, marine, energy, construction, and manufacturing.

For more information
Contact your JSG Industrial Systems representative on (02) 9914 8720 or visit www.jsgindustrial.com

ART Dynamic Chain for package and parcel handling applications

Third-party logistics, parcel, e-commerce, distribution and manufacturing companies need to handle packages, boxes, cases, pouches and bags efficiently – with minimal to zero damage. Rexnord’s new ART Dynamic Chain is a suitable alternative to create dynamic behaviour in-line, with zero back-line pressure capabilities.

But what is ART Dynamic Chain? It is a Rexnord designed and developed conveyor chain that provides the ability to create multiple behaviours – zero back-line pressure, rotation, acceleration, deceleration, low-pressure accumulation, metering and sequencing – in a single conveyor design. This is unlike many other options available that require multiple conveyors to perform similar tasks on a production line.

Rexnord only provides the ART Dynamic Chain, which allows OEMs to incorporate their own design and engineering expertise to create their conveying systems. This means that OEMs can custom-build their conveyor to suit, while incorporating a chain system that allows many different types of product to be handled in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The ART Dynamic Chain is activated by applying pressure on the activation cones located on the outer edges of the chain. When an actuator applies pressure from the top, the rollers roll backwards, creating a deceleration, brake or stoppage of the item being conveyed. When an actuator applies pressure from the bottom, the rollers roll faster, creating an acceleration of the item being conveyed.

ART Dynamic Chain can be activated with widely available mechanical devices and controls in conjunction with a conventional control interface. No proprietary training is required, which means OEMs can use accepted and recognised technology to activate the chain.

A single conveyor design with multiple behaviour capabilities can use the same actuation devices to rotate, accelerate, decelerate, meter and sequence at will, depending on application needs. This cuts down on time and allows for a more efficient working conveyor.

But what can the chain device handle? Quite a bit, according to the manufacturer, including boxes, cases, shrink-wrap, polybags, pouches, and many other shapes and sizes that are usually found using conveyors as a mode of transportation.

As mentioned, one of the key attributes of the system is its ability to do the job of several conveyors. A single conveyor design with multiple behaviour capabilities helps eliminate many individual conveyors, which not only reduces cost, but also the footprint of the system becomes much smaller than some other more complex and consequently more expensive systems currently available in the marketplace.

It also has enhanced gentle package and parcel handling with zero pressure capabilities, as well as flexible and full control on zero pressure behaviour when it handles diverse package and parcel mixes.

Applications for this smart package handling solution can be found across many industries including beverage, food and consumer products package handling in packer to palletiser (P2P) sections, as well as parcel handling in third-party logistics, e-commerce and warehousing arenas.

AquaRush bottling facility designed to meet expanding industry needs

Bottled water has been a refreshment for Australians for the best part of three decades. According to a recent IBISWorld report, the industry in Australia for the past five years through to 2018-19 was valued at just over $700 million, and is expected to grow by 0.8 per cent over the next year. IBISWorld believes this is due to Australians becoming more health conscious and the rise of disposable incomes, especially among millennials.

One company that has been at the forefront of the bottled water and mixed beverage development is AquaRush. Established in 2014 by serial entrepreneur Roshan Chelvaratnam, AquaRush offers various types of water –ranging from spring, sparkling, mineral, demineralised and mixed beverages.

The company combines various technologies and manufacturing facilities, with the intent of reshaping the future of bottled water in Australia and the world.

It has a new HACCP, GMP and ISO-accredited automated bottling and commercial facility that uses a range of technologies to produce the finest quality water products for the consumer and industrial markets at an affordable price point.

It is capable of filling 15,000 350ml bottles per hour and has both PET and glass-filling lines.

The company has existing distribution channels in Australia, APAC, South Africa and the Middle East.

READ MORE: Poor water quality linked to sugary drink consumption

The company has a quality management system that continuously monitors its products to make sure they meet Australian regulatory guidelines, standards and codes of practice. Chelvaratnam is the founder and managing director of the company.

Over the past few years he has built a number of successful businesses across the automotive, import, export and wholesale, electrical, and now beverage market.
“We’re focussed on developing innovative products that cater to people’s diverse lifestyles and interests; new product categories include premium sparkling water, high alkaline water and black sparkling water, to name a few,” said national sales manager Marko Powell. “We offer different variances of water to cater to the customer’s needs.

“We strive to remain at the forefront of innovation with the latest advances in water filtration. We bottle volcanic water, exotic sparkling water, flavoured water, commercial water and more.”

One area that the company doesn’t spare any expense is investing in the training and development of its staff.

Each quarter it offers skills-based training in a specialised area relevant to each role so the company’s staff are learning and developing their knowledge base.

“We’ve also invested in encryption technology allowing our water bottles to be scanned from a smartphone app,” said Powell. “This app links to a product landing page authenticating the product, digitising the experience and allowing consumers to interact with the product they’re purchasing.”

Sustainability is also a buzz word that is gaining traction in the food and beverage industry. This is something that AquaRush is serious about, with it setting itself goals that will mean less plastic in landfills.

“Since 2018, we have implemented 66 per cent recycled plastic bottles and recycled cardboard,” said Powell. “Our goal is to work towards 100 per cent recyclable packaging and we are on track to doing so.

“We use 20 per cent glass in our overall brand portfolio and we aim to increase this to 50 per cent by mid 2020. Progress against our sustainability goals is discussed during senior leadership meetings each quarter.

“Beyond these meetings, the executive committee members are committed to executing against these goals, driving their importance within their immediate staff.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the company knows that giving back to the community is just as important as reducing its carbon footprint.

“We’ve donated money to help rebuild an orphanage for disabled children in Sri Lanka,” said Powell. “The aim of the orphanage is to provide a safe and caring environment for these children who would otherwise be forgotten.”

As well as producing a range of water products under various labels including the I Am, Kangaroo & Koala Aqua Downunder critters, and AquaRush 2Pure Water brands, the company provides private label production services to other companies within the water industries.

AquaRush also supports the World’s first plant-based natural water, and which most recently won the Beverage of the Year Award at the 2019 Food & Beverage Industry Awards, as well as the Global Zenith Awards.

They are also the exclusive water partner to Global Table, which is hosted by Seeds & Chips, the global food organisation.

“The Team at AquaRush is excited to enter into a joint venture partnership with award-winning company Aqua Botanical Beverages from September 2019,” said Chelvaratnam.

“Aqua Botanical has won “Beverage of the Year” two years running and Aqua Rush will be bottling their ‘still’ and ‘sparking’ water products. Our alliance further reinforces our position as a bottler of choice in the industry.

“We will be at Food and Beverage Show displaying Botanical Water and many other fantastic products at our stand. Join us at J31 at the Sydney Fine Foods Exhibition to meet the team and discuss potential private label options and future product development opportunities.”