Processed potatoes are an important nutritional component of our diets. Almost 400 million tonnes are produced annually, and less than half of the crop is used fresh. The remaining crop is processed into a variety of foodstuff as products including french fries, dehydrated potato flakes, food ingredients, animal feed, potato starch and as a starch source for vodka or alcohol production.
Incoming potatoes can vary widely in moisture and other quality measurements, and this variation can complicate the processing parameters required to produce a consistent, high quality end-product. All stages of potato processing can be monitored including raw, par-fried, before and after the dryer, before blancher, and with batters.
Moisture is important for all potato products, and for some products, oil and batter results as well. Fryer oil can also be monitored for FFAs to ensure quality and freshness.
NIR technology is currently being used by many potato processors to evaluate incoming materials as well as to monitor stages in the potato processing plant. NIR analyzers report moisture, fat and other parameters in 30 seconds, providing critical data needed to effectively control the process and optimize the production. Fats and batters can also be analyzed for further process monitoring. This information enables more efficient production, more consistent products and higher profits.