Tomato concentration for a top-quality finished product

Made in Campania

Agriconserve Rega is a family business established in the Sixties in Campania, just 15 km from Pompei. From the Forties onwards, the tomato concentration industry has grown enormously in this area, and the tomato sauce has become a Southern Italian speciality.

The founder of the company, Luigi Rega, set up the company in a small workshop, but soon made his mark with the outstanding quality of his product. Agriconserve Rega eventually became a cooperative in order to control the quality of its entire supply chain, and in 1998 it became a member of the San Marzano PDO tomato consortium.

This elongated tomato, the quality of which is renowned worldwide, is particularly suited for the preparation of peeled tomatoes and conserves. It is characterized by a dense, meaty pulp with a low water content and very few seeds, and is thus ideal for a fast cooking process, which preserves its original flavour in the sauce. San Marzano PDO tomatoes are cultivated, harvested and processed with precisely-defined procedures subject to stringent quality controls.

And this is what makes Agriconserve Rega stand out from its competitors: the original concept of its founder, Luigi Rega (and now his sons), was to focus on the niche market for San Marzano PDO and make the Made in Italy brand known worldwide for its outstanding product quality. The company now exports 75% of its product, mostly to the USA, and 25% of its production is organic.

CFT Group - made in Italy Tomato concentration for San Marzano

CFT Group and Rega

But what does it mean to say that a company “stands out for the quality of its product”? As we have seen, it is essential that the raw materials be of as high quality as possible. The next step is to invest in technologies that guarantee that the finished product fully expresses the original quality of the raw material.

Agriconserve Rega has always chosen CFT Group technologies for the primary components of its processing lines for tomato concentration. Our engineers have developed and installed peelers, fillers and seamers, culminating in 2017 with the installation of an Apollo evaporator designed specifically for the requirements of Agriconserve Rega.

A tailor-made concentration plant

We have been installing the Apollo solution since 2003, with tens of clients fully satisfied with the performance of this evaporator technology. The Apollo evaporator has enabled many companies to increase the quality and efficiency of their tomato processing lines, with excellent results.

Compared with recirculating evaporators, Apollo reduces the time the product is held in the machine (just a few minutes), with a minimal temperature differential between the vapour and the product itself (4-6°C). This completely avoids damaging the processed product. The Apollo is normally designed to handle the first phase of tomato concentration – up to 8-9° brix – with other technologies completing the process. But our solution for Agriconserve Rega goes beyond this limit.

The client required a tomato concentration of 12° brix, which is usually only obtained from recirculating systems. Nearly all Southern Italian companies use this approach.
In this case, however, we took on the challenge and were able to demonstrate concentrations of up to 12° brix with a falling film evaporation system. The consequent energy savings and considerably improved quality of the finished product were immediately evident.

The project was both exciting and very challenging! Falling film technology consists in passing the product once through very small diameter tubes. The system must be very precisely sized to obtain the specified results. During the tender process, CFT Group was the only company able to guarantee Agriconserve Rega a constant output concentration, thanks to our engineers’ meticulous calculations and a solution made specifically for their requirements.

What is more, for the first time we configured Apollo to generate two different product concentrations at the same time, to ensure that the company’s two production lines were both running at full capacity.

And what about product quality? I remember very well the first time the system was started up. One of the company’s directors compared the product output by Apollo with that made by their previous machine, and there was a vast, immediately evident difference between the colour and flavour of the two products. The tomato concentrate produced by Apollo is bright red, with a fresh, natural flavour. Combining San Marzano PDO tomatoes with the Apollo technology has enabled us to produce a tomato concentrate of the very highest gastronomic quality.

CFT Group - tomato concentration technology

Energy and cost savings

Apollo employs the MVR (Mechanical Vapour Recompression) technology, which recovers the product vapour. A mechanical compressor compresses the vapours, thus increasing their temperature, and uses them in place of the steam usually generated by a boiler.

This technology enabled Rega to save on the costs of running its boilers, one of which has been shut down as soon as the system started up. This in turn enabled the company to obtain energy efficiency certification for the low environmental impact of its processing. The increased quality, which is visible at first sight, has also led to a growth in its market share in competitive markets like the USA, where Agriconserve Rega has already gained an excellent return on the initial investment.

Future prospects

Agriconserve Rega is characterized by a forward-looking business philosophy. The considerable initial investment in the Apollo system has already been repaid: in just a few years, energy savings and increased market share driven by outstanding product quality have given an excellent return on investment.

According to Grazio Rega, one of Luigi’s sons and now part of the company’s management, the reason for choosing CFT Group is very simple:

“We chose CFT Group because they’re a world leader in tomato processing, and I believe that every manufacturer should have such a reliable partner at their side.
Of course we made an investment, but it’s our duty to invest in improving our product and we have gained enormously in efficiency and quality.”

The tomato market*

The tomato concentrate market is projected to grow considerably in the near future due to the product’s wide use in the food industry. Every year, around 40 million tons of processed tomatoes are consumed worldwide.

The growing demand for organic tomato concentrate will drive the profitability of the global tomato market over the next few years. Global tomato production peaked in 2018, and will probably continue to grow consistently in the near future.

William Dattaro – Sales Area Manager

Gabriele Botti – Processing Project Manager

*Source: tomatonews.com

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