Compressed air is a key utility supporting the food packaging and food processing industries in North America. Compressed air must be contaminant-free to ensure the protection of the food products processed in each facility. The U.K. Code of Practice for Food-Grade Air helps define three types of compressed air systems and air purification specifications required for each.
The production facilities of the different segments within the food industry all have different applications for compressed air. The U.S. fruit and vegetable processing industry, for example, operates approximately 1,300 facilities in the U.S. and employs roughly 112,000 people. These manufacturing plants are primarily engaged in the canning, freezing, and dehydrating of fruits and vegetables. This segment represents approximately 7.5% of the dollar value of shipments of the entire U.S. food industry. 1 In many fruit and vegetable processing plants, compressed air systems are used for air cleaning of containers prior to product filling, automated product sorting, and product packaging systems.