Currently, refrigeration plays an essential role in the Spanish bakery industry, driving changes in production and distribution processes, and ensuring the freshness and quality of products offered to consumers. As we will see, the presence of refrigeration in the bakery sector extends throughout the entire value chain, from initial production to the final point of sale. This circumstance demonstrates its undeniable importance in this important and constantly evolving business niche.

Refrigeration in the bakery sector: current situation and characteristics of the bread industry

Through a detailed analysis of the most recent economic data provided by the Spanish Association of Bakery, Pastry, and Confectionery Industry (Asemac), we can better understand how refrigeration has become a key component in the production and preservation of bread:

In 2023, the industry recorded a 2.45% increase in the production of frozen dough, reaching 973,034 tons. This indicates a significant change in the way bread, pastries, and confectionery are produced in Spain. Similarly, the production of bread based on frozen dough reached 754,818 tons, corresponding to a slight increase of 1.2% compared to 2022.

This phenomenon is also reflected in the 7.04% increase in the production of pastries and confectionery, reaching 218,216 tons. These figures demonstrate the growing influence of refrigeration in the bakery sector.

In fact, refrigeration technology keeps products fresh and also allows greater flexibility in production processes. The diversification of products and the adaptability of production methods have become more accessible thanks to these technological innovations. In addition, points of sale equipped with freezing systems and specialized ovens have become an integral part of the value chain, offering freshly baked products at any time of the day.

Refrigeration influences the bread value chain

Precisely, the complexity of the bread value chain is reflected in the diversity of business activities that comprise it. In this sense, in addition to the large traditional bakery industries, we find bakeries producing fresh and frozen bread. Similarly, a large subsector only produces fresh and/or frozen bread for bakeries or hot spots. Refrigeration in the bakery sector becomes the unifying element that allows the coexistence of these different types of businesses. This integration of cooling systems throughout the value chain is essential to meet the demands of the current market and maintain competitiveness in such a changing sector. Undoubtedly, this characteristic makes the bakery guild one of the most particular cases of refrigeration in the food industry.

Challenges of refrigeration in the bakery sector

Before freshly kneaded bread is placed in the oven, the challenge for refrigeration systems in the bakery sector begins. Indeed, the task is monumental: evaporators, key components in this process, must be versatile and capable of performing a series of critical functions. From maintaining the appropriate temperature in the work area to facilitating the freezing and rapid preservation of products, including even interrupting fermentation, the demand is maximum.

Specifically, evaporators must face a wide range of conditions, including small temperature variations and extremely rapid freezing times. Additionally, they must ensure optimal storage conditions in terms of temperature, humidity, and air circulation. This complexity intensifies in bakery showcases, where freshly baked products are proudly displayed, demanding sophisticated refrigeration technology to maintain their freshness and quality.

Freezing bread

Freezing bread is a delicate process that seeks to preserve the organoleptic quality of the product. After baking, freshly baked bread has an elastic and moist crumb, a crispy crust, and the aroma and flavor that characterize it. However, over time, the aging process begins, marked by complex changes that affect its texture and flavor. This aging is closely related to the loss of moisture and the retrogradation of starch, leading to a loss of quality.

The recrystallization of starch, a key phenomenon in bread aging, is influenced by temperature. Rapid freezing stops this process by inhibiting the formation of crystalline structures in the starch. In this case, refrigeration in the bakery sector becomes a vital tool to extend the shelf life of bread, both from a microbiological perspective and to preserve its freshness and quality.

However, freezing bread poses practical challenges. In many bakeries, frozen bread is often a last resort measure to avoid waste. The problem lies in the fact that, ultimately, frozen products have lost much of their original freshness, affecting their acceptance by consumers.

Innovation in the preservation of parbaked bread

The evolution of the bakery industry has witnessed a significant change in production methods, with particular emphasis on the concept of “parbaked bread.” What was once a practice limited in Spain in the late 1980s, primarily aimed at fast-food establishments and large collectivities, has experienced a notable increase in production since the 1990s. This phenomenon is largely due to the rise of frozen parbaked bread, which allowed the transfer of the baking process from bakeries to homes, thanks to domestic ovens.

The parbaked bread process involves two-stage baking. Firstly, the bread dough is prepared as in the traditional process, although with modifications to the formulation to adapt to this method. The initial baking stage, carried out in the bakery industry, represents approximately 45% of the total baking time. This is carried out at a slightly lower temperature than the single baking process (about 30°C less). Once this first stage is completed, the bread is cooled to room temperature and subjected to a preservation system that extends its shelf life until the moment of final consumption. The consumer will execute the second baking stage in their domestic oven.

Refrigeration in the bakery sector makes frozen parbaked bread viable

The advantages of frozen parbaked bread are numerous. It allows consumers to enjoy freshly baked bread, preserving its maximum organoleptic quality. Precisely because the aging process begins only after the acquisition of the bread. Likewise, it offers flexibility to the consumer by providing fresh bread according to their demand, without requiring large investments or technical knowledge at the point of sale.

For producers, this technique allows for better time management, as bread can be prepared throughout the day, avoiding the concentration of production during the night. It also helps reduce losses due to stale bread, a problem that affects up to 3% of sales worldwide. By baking bread according to consumer demand at the point of sale, the generation of surplus bread that may become unsold products is avoided.

Intersam designs systems and structures for refrigeration in the bakery sector

At Intersam, we specialize in the design and implementation of refrigeration and air conditioning systems for various industries and commerce. Of course, we also develop and install units specifically adapted to the bakery sector. With over 28 years of experience in the industry, we are proud to offer customized solutions that meet the unique needs of each client.

Our equipment and structures are designed with state-of-the-art technology to ensure efficient energy consumption. This significantly reduces operating costs and contributes to environmental care. In line with our environmental commitment, we use eco-friendly refrigerants and implement raw material recycling practices. Additionally, we are committed to controlling and optimizing the consumption of water, oil, and energy in all our processes.

At Intersam, we are ready to take on refrigeration projects in the bakery sector both in Spain and anywhere in the world. Whether you need to acquire prefabricated units or are looking for a tailor-made project, our highly trained team is ready to offer you the perfect solution for your needs. Do not hesitate to contact us and discover how we can help you take your business to the next level!

 

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