With the UK alone experiencing a 6% rise in the rice market over the past year, FEI Foods has invested in high-speed pouch lines to produce its ready-to-eat rice products.

The equipment, sourced from Holmach Ltd’s partners Jorgensen Engineering of Denmark and Lagarde Autoclaves of France, takes pouches running from high speed pouch fillers and arranges them into pocketed retort trays that are then piled into stacks. These are then automatically loaded into the autoclaves for Lagarde’s patented steam/air process.

Lagarde’s process minimises water consumption whilst the steaming process gives fast heating with cooking to preserve colour, taste and texture. Once the rice has been steamed, it is cooled using showered water before being drained and the pouches being unloaded by robots and sent down the line for packing.

As part of the system, Jorgensen also supplied a pouch drying system, the conveyors and the robotic palletiser, taking production from two different lines onto two different pallet stations.