A few years ago, the domestic instant food market was considered very attractive for investment. This is not surprising, because it began to develop actively in Russia at the very beginning of the 90s, and then its growth rate reached an unprecedented 70% per year. However, over time, analysts noted a gradual decrease in growth. By the mid-2000s, the market was already showing negative dynamics, primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and then in other cities. Among the main reasons for this development, experts call the growth of the welfare of the population, in connection with which more and more consumers refuse fast food in favor of natural products; huge competition from other products that are used to quickly snack “on the go” - all kinds of snacks, dairy products and semi-finished products (dumplings, pancakes, etc.); the development of fast food chains; more and more attention that consumers pay to their health, preferring natural products. Does this mean that the fast food segment is no longer promising for opening its own production? Experts are confident that, despite the decline in sales of such products, this market deserves the attention of investors. The main thing is to choose a niche.
Instant soups are far from a new invention. They were very common in Soviet times. And then consumers treated them as a cheap substitute product, which is suitable mainly for use in nature, when there is no opportunity and / or time to cook a “full-fledged” soup (for example, on a camping trip or in a summer house). From the beginning of the 90s to the mid-2000s, such soups, in connection with the use of cheaper production technology and artificial additives, have been associated with poor-quality and unhealthy foods. Now, with the advent of new formulations and improved production technologies, the attitude towards such products is gradually changing. This is most noticeable in large cities, which account for about 45% of the total sales of instant soups. Soups are still the most traditional and most popular dish in the diet of our compatriots. However, most residents of million-plus cities spend too much time at work and cannot devote time every day to preparing home lunches and dinners. At the same time, their level of well-being is quite high, they are able and want to pay for a quality product. Thus, in the first place go better soups in the premium category. Manufacturers, in turn, are gradually increasing in their assortment the share of instant soups that need to be cooked, and products that facilitate the cooking process.
Think in advance of the assortment of your future production. Soups of "home-made" taste with the usual tastes for Russian consumers are now in greatest demand: borsch, kharcho, pickle, pea soups with different tastes (chicken, bacon, etc.), noodle soup with chicken broth, mushroom soup, etc.
Instant products, which are presented on the Russian market, are produced according to two main technologies - by dehydrogenation and by sublimation. The first option has received the greatest distribution, since it is much less expensive. The second option is more expensive, although this is how the famous soups in paper bags were made in the USSR.
During dehydration, the principle of thermal drying of products is used, in which the raw material is heated to 100-120 ° C, as a result of which moisture is removed from it. On the one hand, this prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and the rapid deterioration of dishes, on the other hand, when dehydrated, the cellular structure and vitamins are destroyed, the consistency of the product, its taste and smell change. Therefore, various preservatives, binders and flavorings are necessarily added to the semi-finished product. Most of the instant soups on the Russian market are made by dehydration (up to 90%) and are a mechanical mixture of the main component with fat, a small amount of meat and various flavors. To reduce the cost of the product, pasta, dried vegetables and potatoes, as well as pre-cooked and dried cereals and legumes, are used as the main component. To increase the nutritional value of the semi-finished product, various ingredients are added to it, such as tomato products or protein hydrolysates, seasonings and flavorings to improve the taste and aroma, agar, gelatin, pectins, starch, alginates to change the consistency, antioxidants, etc. to increase the shelf life. d.
For the production of instant soups by dehydration, special equipment will be required. Among other things, such a line includes a stainless steel mixer with a volume of 50 liters, an extruder with a capacity of 100 kg per hour, a finger crusher, with the help of which the extruded groats are converted into flour, a roll crusher for grinding cereals into “flakes”, a packing device with a batcher for crackers and a semiautomatic device for packaging the finished semi-finished product in bags, technological containers (10-12 stainless steel tanks with a volume of 50-60 liters for interoperational storage and transportation of products). The production process using such equipment is as follows: cereals (pea, buckwheat, corn, rice, etc.) are poured into the mixer, where they are moistened and thoroughly mixed. Then the mixture is transferred to the extruder, where it is extruded. Then it falls into the crusher, where it is crushed and reloaded into the original mixer. Fats, preservatives, flavoring and aromatic additives are added there. At the last stage, the finished product is transferred to the packaging machine.
As is clear from the description of the production process of soups and other products by the dehydrogenation method, such products contain a minimum amount of biologically active nutrients, since all the ingredients in their composition underwent a very strict culinary processing.
During sublimation, the transition of a substance from a solid to a gaseous state takes place. And the liquid stage is excluded. First, the raw materials are subjected to rapid freezing, and then the products are sent to a vacuum chamber, the pressure of which decreases to 2.7-8 Pa, as a result of which the ice evaporates quickly. In this case, heat is absorbed, and the temperature of the product decreases. To keep it in the given parameters, it is necessary to sublimate the ice by supplying heat from external sources to the drying zone. The most common drying option for sublimation of products is the emission of heat from plates heated by a hot liquid. Such plates are installed in a vacuum chamber next to the products. When the ice evaporates, the mass of the semi-finished product is significantly reduced. To remove evaporating moisture, temperature plates of at least 55 ° C are used, on which it condenses. In the production process, it is necessary to regularly clean off the ice that forms on them.
Finished products are packed in plastic packaging. The main requirement for it is complete tightness, in this case, neither special conditions nor special temperature conditions are required for storing the product for a long time.
Special vacuum units are used to remove moisture from quick-frozen foods. As a result of this procedure, all the valuable nutrients and trace elements, as well as its original taste, smell and even color, are stored in the raw material. In order to give the sublimated product its original appearance, it is enough to add water to it. An additional advantage of this technology is the ability to store products that have been processed in this way at any temperature for several years without compromising their consumer qualities. The disadvantages include high cost.
Nevertheless, consumers are willing to pay for quality products, and gradually manufacturers of instant products have an interest in this technology. Currently, in our country, the production of freeze-dried products is engaged in a limited number of enterprises. The growing competition in this segment is constrained by difficulties in finding and purchasing the necessary equipment, as well as the complexity of the technology used. For the production of instant soups by sublimation, the following equipment will be required: several modular vacuum sublimation units for drying viscous materials, equipment for storage and preparation of raw materials (four low-temperature refrigerators for four procurement points and two for main production), control equipment for acceptance raw materials and finished products, packaging and labeling equipment (vacuum packaging machine for filling and packaging products), equipment for preparation and processing of raw materials into soluble fraction, disinfecting equipment. Do not forget about washing and cutting tables, transport trolleys with a loading capacity of up to 100 kg, stainless steel pallets (400 pieces) and other additional equipment. In addition to the area under the workshop, in which all units will be located, a room for warehouses for raw materials and finished products will be required. Such products must be stored in clean, dry and well-ventilated areas where regular treatment of pests is carried out. At the same time, direct sunlight should not get on the boxes with packages (otherwise this can lead to rancidity of fat). The relative humidity during storage should not exceed 75%.
Food concentrates are packaged in bulk in separate bags. Soups, as a rule, are not briquetted, since with this method of packaging, diced vegetables and noodles break when pressed. For packing soups, it is recommended to use bags of laminated paper or foil. For convenient opening of the package, such packaging is often provided with additional notches on one or two sides.
The capital for the organization of such a plant for the production of freeze-dried products with a design capacity of about 1000 tons per year is estimated by experts in the amount of $ 15 million. The planned payback period of the project from the start of lending is five years. Despite the high costs, this project is assessed as promising. There is virtually no competition in this segment of premium instant foods. In our country there are only two plants that produce a large assortment of sublimated semi-finished products, but they are not able to satisfy the existing demand on the market.
In addition to the dehydration and sublimation described above, there is another technology for the production of instant soups using the method of shock freezing. On the one hand, such a method is much less expensive than sublimation. On the other hand, products processed in this way retain all their taste and nutritional properties. Everyone knows that freezing can significantly extend the shelf life of food. However, since the air inside the freezer is very dry, during gradual freezing, the exposed parts of the products that come into contact with it for a long time release moisture. This leads to a deterioration in the appearance of the product (a change in its color) and its structure. Specialists call this phenomenon freezing. During shock freezing, food is frozen in a short time, as a result of which they retain all their properties. Such a technology involves three main steps. At the first stage, all the ingredients of the future dish are gradually frozen at a temperature of + 90 ° C to + 3 ° C for 90 minutes. At the second stage, the components are frozen and crystallized to -5 ° C. All two stages take a little more than two hours. In the third stage, an intensive freezing of the dish occurs by lowering the temperature to -18 ° C. The high speed of freezing allows you to save the organoleptic and taste qualities and structure of food products. For cooking dishes in this way only fresh products are used, and for their packaging - moisture and airproof materials of high strength. Before freezing, vegetables are scalded by immersing for a short time in a tub of salted boiling water.
Of course, using the technology of shock freezing, you can cool and freeze any kind of food and ready meals. In addition to soups, in this way you can process meat, fish, fruits, mushrooms, vegetables and berries, as well as confectionery and bakery products. The method of shock freezing can be used both for ready meals and for semi-finished products. This requires special equipment, which includes shock freezing cabinets, spiral freezers, modular chambers for quick freezing.
Let us consider in more detail the organization of an enterprise for the production of instant soups (and other dishes) by shock freezing. To equip a workshop with a capacity of about 8000 units of products per week, freezers (4-5 pieces), refrigerators (3 pieces), combi steamers (2 pieces), a stove (1 piece), a filling machine for liquid products, and a machine for bulk products will be required. In addition, consider the cost of purchasing inventory, tables for the workshop, office furniture and accessories. For the placement of equipment, as well as the organization of warehouses, an area of at least 350-400 square meters will be required. meters (rental cost will be from 200 thousand rubles, depending on location). To place such a production is best in the suburbs or on the outskirts of the city. To work at the enterprise will require 5-7 workers, at least two packers, administrative staff and an accountant. The salary fund for a staff of 10-13 people will be about 200 thousand rubles.
Additional costs associated with the preparation of the necessary permits for production and products. The average monthly turnover of such an enterprise is 1.5 million rubles, and profit - from 250 thousand rubles. The costs of opening production are estimated at 6 million rubles. This amount includes the purchase of equipment, rent and staff salaries. Such products are sold through retail chains, grocery stores, as well as distributors of food products.
There is another segment in the market of instant products, which has a positive trend and is directly related to cooking. Here are numerous "dressings" for first courses and for salads, granular and crumbly broths, various seasoning options. Among such products, chicken-flavored additives are most in demand, as well as various “auxiliary” products for preparing familiar dishes - goulash, pilaf, sauce, julienne, etc.
The profitability of the business for the production of instant soups is estimated by various sources at 4-12%.
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