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This is how ice cream gets from the manufacturer to the consumer

Cool stuff - The ice cream supply chain

For many people, tasty ice cream is as much a part of summer as sunglasses or swimwear. The popular food is ubiquitous during the hot months. Therefore, it is all the more important to ensure right conditions when it comes to manufacture, transport or storage. This is the only way to make ice cream a real treat.

Be it in a cone, on a stick or in a cup, there is hardly anyone who does not like ice cream. After all, there is something for every taste. The classic flavours have long since been expanded to include a large variety of new creations. This does not only mean "crème brûlée", "Dragon fruit" or "mum's mixing bowl", even ice lollies with red beans, black sesame or vanilla ice cream with charcoal have been spotted in Berlin's trendy ice cream parlours. However, even these flavours are not the latest trend. In London, ice cream wrapped in candyfloss is a fast seller, and in Australia, ice cream and chips are sold together in one cup.

How ice cream is made

Major manufacturers take great care that everything meets the required quality standards as early as the manufacturing stage, especially the raw ingredients. Firstly, a detailed analysis is made in the laboratory and then these ingredients are released for processing.

In the first step, the raw ingredients are combined according to the recipe and then processed in a special plant. The ice cream is pressed through a special sieve under high pressure. This process ensures that the ingredients are evenly blended and that a creamy consistency is achieved.

Subsequently, the ice cream is pasteurised to preserve it. Harmful microorganisms are killed by heating the mixture to about 80 degrees Celsius and then cooling it down to 4 degrees Celsius in one minute. It has to then rest.

The history of ice cream

The first ice-cream-like dessert probably originated in China. A sorbet, similar to ice cream, can presumably be dated back to ancient Europe. People say that Alexander the Great had a weakness for glacial ice refined with honey, fruit or rose water. At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo described the manufacture of a cold mixture made from snow or water and saltpetre, which he had seen in China. The first ice cream parlour in Germany was opened at the Alsterpavillon in Hamburg in 1799. In 1843, Nancy Johnson invented the hand-crank ice cream maker thereby simplifying the ice cream making process. The first ice lolly was invented by an American manufacturer of lemonade, Frank Epperson, when he accidentally left a mixing stick in a glass of soda outside overnight. After a frosty night, he held the first ice lolly in his hands.

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Only then is the ice cream stocked in the freezer cabinets at the retailers and is made available to the consumersThe ice cream reaches its final consistency when the mixture is cooled down to about -5 degrees Celsius. At the same time, oversized rotating blades ensure that the frozen layers are always in motion. Air is whipped into the layers, giving the mixture its creamy consistency which is similar to whipped cream.

The ice cream is then set into special forms, for instance, on a stick or in a cone. Subsequently, it is shock frozen at -40 degrees Celsius. Only then is the ice cream coated with a layer, for instance, of chocolate. The products are sealed in a foil and packed in boxes. The ice cream is usually stored at -26 degrees Celsius at the manufacturing site for about three weeks. It is now ready for transport.

Transport to deep-freeze storage

This is where the Nagel-Group comes in. The food logistics company ensures that the ice cream is transported in strict adherence to the cold chain to one of the numerous deep-freeze storage facilities, which in turn is responsible for further transport . It is important that the temperature of frozen foodstuffs does not exceed -18 degrees Celsius at all times in the transport, as an uninterrupted cold chain guarantees top quality. At the Nagel-Group, maintaining the cold chain at all times is a matter of course. For example, trucks are cooled down before loading to ensure that the ice cream always has the right temperature during transport. This is continuously documented and recorded for the customer.

Storage: sensors monitor the ambient temperature

After the transport, the boxes are stored in one of the numerous Nagel-Group distribution warehouses for frozen goods at temperatures between -21 and -24 degrees Celsius. The Nagel-Group has a comprehensive frozen network and ensures that optimum conditions are maintained for the ice cream at all times. "This is why we have special rooms in our deep freeze storage facilities which can be cooled down to very low temperatures," explains Bernd Niederdrenk, coordinator for frozen business at the Nagel-Group. However, the cooling circuit remains the same. The only difference is that more heat is extracted from the room. The ambient temperature is permanently monitored by special sensors and this is documented for the customers. Subsequently, the ice cream is prepared for further transport.

Transport to consumer

Particular challenges are posed by the interfaces in the supply chain, especially while loading goods. In order to maintain an unbroken cold chain at all times, the Nagel-Group takes various measures. For instance, the refrigerated vehicle is cooled down before loading. Due to the fact that the ice cream has already been stored between -21 and -24 degrees Celsius, a temperature reserve is created. It is also important that the trailers are loaded at door systems which are tightly sealed and largely free of thermal bridges. At the Nagel-Group, long sluices with high-speed doors and the use of strip curtains ensure that heat penetration is reduced and resources are spared.

During the transport, professional drivers from the Nagel-Group always keep an eye on the temperature. Special temperature sensors continuously document the temperature in the trailer. Along with the data collected in the cold store, compliance with the cold chain can be documented in full.

Delivery of goods to the retailers is carried out in a similar manner to the deep-freeze warehouse. Unloading trucks as quickly as possible is essential so that the ice cream can be stored in the deep-freeze room immediately. Only then is the ice cream stocked in the freezer cabinets at the retailers and is made available to the consumers.

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