The range of dried fruits has been considerably expanded in Germany in recent years. However, it is still common fruits such as apples, bananas, or stone fruits that are the most sold in this segment. AFG Technologies GmbH now wants to enrich the market with total production and sales concept, according to spokesman Ercan Erten.
AFG Technologies GmbH, based in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, was founded in 2016 as the successor to a mechanical engineering company and has been dedicated to developing innovative technologies ever since. "Two years ago, we developed a special technology for dehydrating fruit that does not alter the product's characteristics. With this installation, the fruit can be dehydrated in, at most, an hour and a half, preserving its nutritional value and its aroma. Also, in terms of hygiene, the method reaches higher standards because the fruit is processed bacteria-free at a temperature of around 70-75°C," says Ercan.
AFG's dewatering technology is similar to solar drying, but the drying procedure only takes 1-1.5 hours instead of 4-5 days.
Production of dried fruit in emerging countries
Due to its extensive experience in the sector, Ercan has an extensive network of contacts in Africa and the Middle East. With 2021 as the international year of fruit and vegetables, the idea arose of betting on the dehydrated fruit sector and developing a comprehensive concept. "My goal is to support agriculture in emerging countries through innovative projects. Specifically, we want to establish alliances with German fruit merchants with the guarantee that they will sell our products. In this way, we will obtain credits for the fruit growers with whom we collaborate. in emerging countries, they will be able to finance the construction of on-site drying facilities".
The company wants to offer added value both to producers in the countries of origin and to traders in Germany. "Exotic fruits such as dragon fruit are offered at very high prices in retail due to air freight costs. But in reality, most fruits are made of water. Instead of transporting water, the products could be dried in the country of origin and offered in Germany at affordable prices, thus increasing the consumer's willingness to try something new. Also, compared to fresh fruit, dried fruit has a significantly longer shelf life," says Ercan.
Food waste is avoided by drying.
Even food waste could be largely avoided by the new drying technology, according to Ercan, who cites cashew nuts as an example: "Few consumers know that the cashew nut we consume comes from a larger fruit. Only the seed, however, is marketed and exported; the fruit, on the other hand, is thrown away as waste, although it is also suitable for consumption. In the future, we will certainly also dehydrate hitherto unknown fruits."
Finally, Ercan emphasizes that AFG Technologies GmbH wants to offer a comprehensive concept. "On the one hand, we supply the installation technology so that the suppliers can dehydrate the product. At the same time, we help the traders with the import process and, if possible, with the marketing and commercialization of the dried fruits. ".