In the food industry, the term IQF refers to individual quick freezing, also known as flash freezing. Frozen products, in general, are good alternatives to fresh products in that they lock in nutrients while promising a longer shelf life. If you sell or serve fruits in your business, you’ve probably heard of the term “IQF fruits” and have wondered what it means.
This article explains these types of foods in more detail. I’ve also listed common examples of fruits that can be prepared using IQF technology.
What are IQF Fruits?
As the term implies, IQF fruits refer to fruits like blueberries, cherries, and peaches that are individually frozen — meaning that these frozen fruits don’t stick together. A person who purchases a bag of IQF fruits can easily take a few pieces for their dish and not deal with a huge mass of fruits clumped together.
Since IQF is also called flash freezing, it means that fruits are frozen at a very fast rate, which prevents ice crystals from forming. IQF works best on small pieces of food. So, in addition to fruits, other IQF products may include vegetables (corn, green peas, etc.), shrimps, and scallops.
What are the Benefits of IQF Fruits?
A recent report stated that the global IQF fruit market is projected to reach $11.8 billion in 2031 [*]. It’s no secret that the demand for these products is increasing. What benefits do they provide for retailers and consumers alike? Below are some of them:
- Fresh produce all year round – Restaurants that need a supply of fresh produce for their menu know that they don’t always get the best fruits. But with IQF fruits, this problem is eliminated. IQF food suppliers choose quality, ripe fruits and freeze them so that their freshness stays intact.
- Cuts down on food waste – Fruits and other foods go bad over time, which calls for the need for food preservation. Frozen fruits don’t just give you access to fresh options for months, but they also generate less food waste.
- Create delicious smoothies from frozen pellets – Ever heard of IQF fruit pellets? These are frozen fruit purees shaped into pellets or cubes for making smoothies and smoothie bowls. Some people would even use them as “smoothie boosters” — for instance, adding a few acai berry pellets to your apple smoothie to increase your drink’s antioxidant content.
- Supports overall health – Just because something has undergone a form of processing, doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. IQF fruits, in particular, do not require preservatives and additives like sugar. In other words, these fruits are as nutritious as freshly picked, non-frozen versions.
- Suitable for any food niche – Whether you’re selling gluten-free products, serving food in a restaurant, or offering meal delivery services, it doesn’t matter. IQF fruits ensure you have tasty and quality ingredients.
IQF Fruits: The Process
Before the freezing process starts, manufacturers start by washing and slicing (for larger fruits like apples) before placing the fruits in a blast freezer. Some manufacturers do chilling prior to freezing, which lowers the temperature of the fruits so that the freezing process is done more quickly and efficiently.
During IQF, fruits are frozen rapidly at a temperature range of 31 to 25 F. While the exact freezing duration depends on the product and freezer, it usually takes 90 minutes or less. The frozen fruits are then placed in small retail bags or larger bags.
List of Fruits That Can Undergo IQF
Common IQF fruits include the following:
- Coconut dices
- Dragon fruits
- Acai berry
- Mixed fruits
Do IQF Fruits Retain Their Nutritional Value?
The short answer is yes. IQF makes it possible for individuals to enjoy healthy food even if fresh non-frozen produce isn’t available. Unlike IQF vegetables, fruits do not undergo blanching — placing veggies in boiling water to stop enzymatic activity that promotes decay, which may lead to nutrient losses. Therefore, IQF fruits retain their nutrient content.
IQF isn’t going away. It’s dominating the frozen food industry, thanks to its benefits that range from efficiency to quality and healthy products all year! Looking for IQF fruits? Take advantage of our technology.
At Empire Freezing & Drying, we provide individual quick freezing services. Aside from frozen fruits, we also produce IQF smoothie chips, sauce chips, and ice cream. Contact us today.