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Public Interest Energy Research Program: Final Project Report

cover of report Technology Roadmap: Energy Efficiency in California's Food Industry

Publication Number: CEC-500-2006-073
Publication Date: July 2006
PIER Program Area: Industrial, Agricultural, Water End-Use Energy Efficiency Research

The executive summary, abstract and table of contents for this report are available below. This publication is available as an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format File. In order to download, read and print PDF files, you will need a copy of the free Acrobat Reader software installed in and configured for your computer. The software can be downloaded from Adobe Systems Incorporated's website.

Download Report in Acrobat PDF ( 91 pages, 2.4 megabytes - Note size! )

Executive Summary

The food processing industry in California is larger than that in any other state and is an important, diverse, and dynamic industrial sector in California's overall economy. Building upon the premier agricultural industry, food processing is a $50 billion dollar industry and the third largest industrial energy user in the state. California's great Central Valley is home to more than 3,000 factory sites and has the world's largest single factory sites for processing fluid milk (California Dairies, Inc.), cheese (Hilmar Cheese Company), milk powder/butter (California Dairies, Inc.), wine (E & J Gallo), and poultry (Foster Farms).

Over the past 20 years, increasing population and urbanization have brought on greater regulatory requirements and sharper competition for water and energy. Co-production of wastes and its associated liabilities has become a significant cost factor and limiting factor to growth of operations. Increasing labor costs, high natural gas and electricity prices, the 2001-2002 energy reliability crises, environmental regulations, higher costs for operating older, inefficient factories, and global market competition have created a challenging economic environment for food manufacturing firms in California. In combination, these factors resulted in factory closures (e.g., Del Monte Foods, San Jose; Hunt Wesson, Fullerton and Davis; and Tri Valley Growers, Modesto, and Gridley) and consolidation of food processing facilities across the state.

Despite the difficulties, the food industry continues to invest in California to supply the most important market with quality food products. Some large, newly constructed factories (Cheese and Protein International, Tulare; Brawley Beef, Brawley) and pilot plants (ConAgra, Irvine; Creative Research Management, Stockton) have incorporated automated and energy efficient technologies to achieve economic advantages. Among the technologies are those with the ability to track and trace food at all points in the process.

On behalf of the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission), the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR) established a Food Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) comprising industry and technology experts to lead discussions aimed to determine the state of the industry, prioritize research needs, and develop a vision and plan for the future. CIFAR facilitated this process and subsequently, held several public forums and meetings to develop the California food processing roadmap. These outcomes supported the Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Program.

The FIAC set an agenda for a research program and proposed an industry vision with missions and targets:

  • Vision: To continuously improve the global competitiveness of the diverse California food industry with respect to improving energy and productivity efficiencies and reducing water use.

  • Mission: To manage energy and other resources to meet or exceed all standards and benchmarks.

  • Target: To identify cost-effective savings with payback within 2 years.

The committee met several times and further communicated to complete the industry-driven program and implementation plan. Nine priority research and development areas were identified, in addition to targets and possible approaches, aimed directly at improving energy and productivity efficiencies and reducing water use in California's food processing industry.

The resulting roadmap sets research priorities for the industry in nine broad tracks:

ES-1. Research and Development Needs Ranked Order of Priority

  1. Optimize Equipment and Utilities
  2. Validate Existing Technologies
  3. Improve Thermal Efficiencies
  4. Optimize Cold Chain Management
  5. Improve Power Quality and Reliability
  6. Improve Water Use Efficiency
  7. Reduce Supply Chain Waste
  8. Ensure Food Safety and Security
  9. Develop Seasonal Infrastructure

Each of these tracks is distinct. However, there are many instances where implementation of improvements in one technology area may have implications that overlap in other systems. The central objective of the research program is to reduce the power required to produce a unit of production in the food processing process. The target is to achieve 20 to 30 percent energy use productivity improvements.

The future utilization of energy resources will require a multi-disciplinary approach across industries. The recommendations and conclusions of the committee are the result of applying an overall systems approach whenever possible in order to incorporate multiple variables and efficiencies into a total integrated and process controlled operation. Progress in single isolated technical areas, such as pumping systems, new materials, or refrigeration improvements, will not be sufficient. Inter-related research projects conducted in a parallel and coordinated manner will be much more powerful. To this end, the roadmap calls for coordination with the US Department of Energy and industry organizations to ensure that PIER research will be done in concert with other projects utilizing crosscutting technologies.


California's $50 billion food processing industry is an important, diverse, and dynamic sector of California's economy, and the third largest industrial energy user in the State. Over the past 20 years, such pressures as urbanization, regulations, higher costs for energy, water, and other resources, global competition, and limitations on effluents have motivated the food processing industry to search for ways to reduce energy and water use, while maintaining product quality and increasing productivity. To help the industry meet these goals, the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research formed a Food Industry Advisory Council of industry and technology experts. This group prioritized research that would help the industry meet their objectives, and developed a vision and plan for the future. Their findings, bolstered by input from public forums, are presented in this Roadmap, along with recommendations for the future.

Keywords: California food processing industry, food processors, energy use, water use, energy efficient food processing technology, California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, Food Industry Advisory Committee, food industry roadmap

Table of Contents

Preface ii
Abstract v
Executive Summary 1
1.0 Introduction 3
1.1. Overview of the Industry 3
1.2. Specific Characteristics of Industry Sectors 8
1.3. Trends 11
s2.0 Background 13
2.1. Project Objective 13
2.2. Report Organization 13
3.0 Project Approach 14
4.0 Project Outcomes: A Vision for the Future of the California Food Industry 14
4.1. Goals and Benchmarks 16
4.2. Major Research Needs, Approaches and RD&D Targets 17
4.3. Roadmap Recommendations 18
5.0 Research and Development Opportunities and Constraints 29
5.1. Research Opportunities 29
5.2. Research Constraints 31
6.0 Coordinated Research Approach 31
7.0 Conclusions and Recommendations 33
7.1. Recommendations 34
7.2. Benefits to California 34
7.3. Commercialization Potential and Examples 34
8.0 References 35
9.0 Glossary 37
10.0 Acronyms 37

Appendix A A-1
Appendix B B-1
Appendix C C-1
Appendix D D-1
Appendix E E-1
Appendix F F-1

List of Figures
ES-1. Research and Development Needs Ranked Order of Priority 2
Figure 1. Percent of U.S. production of selected fruits and vegetables from California 3
Figure 2. Annual California production of selected fruits and vegetables 4
Figure 3. Supply chain management 12
Figure 4. Needs and priorities for California's food processing industry 17
Figure 5. Schematic illustration of the role of the program manager 32
Figure 6. The RD&D Conceptual Process 33

List of Tables
Table 1. The value of California's top food commodities* 5
Table 2. Estimated value-added for food processing in California 5
Table 3. Estimated annual water and energy use of major food processing sectors in California 6
Table 4: Estimated total annual effluent water discharge within major food processing sectors in California 7
Table 5: Estimated distribution of energy (%) within major food processing sectors in California 8
Table 6. Key drivers 15
Table 7. Goals and Benchmarks 17
Table 8. Comparison of industry needs and RD&D targets 29

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