McCain Foods has installed a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator at its Smithton plant that will help to reduce water usage by more than 100,000 litres per day.

The propriety technology was originally deployed at McCain Foods’ Timaru plant in New Zealand late last year as a region-first, and following its success, has now been installed at Smithton.

The PEF generator results in potatoes being pulsed with an electric field rather than steamed, which slashes the plant’s energy and water usage. Additionally, the electric field results in less oil being absorbed when the potatoes are cooked.

The $1.8 million project will save the plant around 276 tonnes of carbon each year, and around 33,000 gigajoules of energy due to the increased efficiency and reduced wastage.

Smithton operates 24 hours, seven days a week to process potatoes into a range of frozen chip products for Australian consumers.

McCain Foods Smithton Plant Manager, Gordon Gillies, said adopting this new technology was fundamental to the company’s growth strategy.

He said it is an important step in reducing McCain’s environmental footprint and continuing to improve its sustainable practices.

“We’re really excited to implement this cutting-edge technology at Smithton, due to the working capabilities and environmental benefits it incorporates.

“This was an opportunity to set new benchmarks in our industry as we continue to focus on becoming even more environmentally responsible. This contributes to McCain’s global commitment to reducing CO2 emissions from our plants by 50 per cent by 2030,” Gillies said.

Smithton halted production on 26 January this year to install the PEF generator, before resuming on 25 February and returning to full production.

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