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Lennard Riskop from Contronics on the potential of dry fog solutions on the fruit and vegetable shelf

"Reducing spoilage increases the margin by up to ten per cent"

Dutch company Contronics offers dry fog solutions for food retailers. Lennard Riskop is the Sales Manager responsible for Germany. "Dry fog creates a local climate zone for products, which allows us to reduce losses by up to 40 per cent. The drying out of fresh produce is delayed, which has a positive effect on the weight of the products. By reducing spoilage, the margin increases by up to ten per cent."

The dry fog systems are particularly useful when there is a shortage of staff, "as the products do not have to be returned to the cold store overnight. Our systems make additional cooling superfluous. Many products are sensitive to frequent temperature changes, which is why night-time cooling can be counterproductive in some cases. In addition, the dry fog ensures an impressive presentation that gives customers a feeling of added freshness and a 'wow effect'."

Proprietary climate zone with localised humidity
Thanks to over 1,500 installed systems, Contronics has relevant data, he says. "A typical grocery store has a temperature of around 20 °C and a humidity of around 45 per cent. These values vary depending on the time of year, for example due to the use of air conditioning in summer or heating in winter, both of which reduce humidity. With our dry fog, we create a separate climate zone with a local humidity of around 80 per cent. It is particularly important that the products do not get wet. This is what makes our technology so unique and fascinating. As soon as products get wet, water spots can appear or spoilage can be accelerated."

"In our system, water is converted into tiny droplets of one to two micrometres in size by ultrasonic vibrations. These droplets evaporate immediately in the display, keeping the products dry. Another advantage of our system is that it cools the display by around 5 °C, which also contributes to the freshness of the products," he adds.

Consistently positive feedback
Their typical customers are supermarkets that want to stand out from their competitors. "By adding extra freshness to their food department and improving their profitability at the same time. We can look back on a long and successful collaboration with EDEKA. At REWE, we are currently testing our latest innovation: MyMist - a remotely adjustable and readable control for our system. The feedback has been consistently positive. Spoilage is noticeably reduced and the customer experience is significantly improved."

He continues: "We customise the installation to the customer's wishes, as we want to intervene as little as possible in the day-to-day business. Our systems are produced by us in the Netherlands and then installed as a complete kit by our fitters. If everything is well-prepared, we only need two hours. It is ideal if the power and water connections are already nearby. The system is set up during installation so that it does not require any operation by personnel. Annual maintenance ensures that our high quality requirements are met."

Expanding market share in Germany
"In the Netherlands, our product is already firmly established and is part of everyday life. In Germany, on the other hand, customers are still unsure, as there are comparatively few markets here that use dry fog. However, I am convinced that this is only a matter of time. The more customers in Germany are convinced by our systems and use them, the more markets will follow suit. As soon as they see that our products are well received and work reliably, this will create a pull effect and further strengthen confidence in our technology. We are focussing on increasing acceptance and trust in our dry mist technology through targeted information campaigns, pilot projects and positive testimonials. This will enable us to guarantee optimum performance and customer satisfaction while continuously expanding our market share in Germany."

"Another challenge is that the prerequisites are often not in place in existing markets," Riskop points out. "In order to install our system, waste water, electricity and water access must be available in the fruit and vegetable department. As we don't lay any connections ourselves, but are only there for the installation, we usually contact the local plumbers so as not to burden the customer with additional work."

Avoidance of food waste
When asked about the future, he replies: "The major food companies have signed a contract with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with the target of reducing food waste by 30 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030. Companies are therefore obliged to think about how food waste can be avoided. We are therefore assuming that it will become unavoidable to find out about our systems. We don't want customers to have to make concessions on price due to poorer quality or even have to write off the goods."

"We are often confused with droplet humidification, which is already widely used in many areas," concludes Riskop (right). "With drip humidification, the products are actually watered and get wet - but that's not the case with us. You always have to bear in mind the impact of food disposal. This not only has a negative impact on the environment, but also puts a strain on finances. We create a win-win situation: the customer saves money and at the same time we reduce our carbon footprint."

Images: Contronics Engineering B. V.

For more information:
Lennard Riskop
Contronics Engineering B.V.
Ambachtsweg 8
NL-5492 NJ Sint-Oedenrode
+31 (0)413 - 487000
[email protected]

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