What does IQF mean? IQF represents and is short for "Individually Quick Frozen", meaning the shrimp is spread out during the process of being frozen to prevent the shrimp from being stuck together. This process produces a better flavor and texture to the shrimp.
When we talk about IQF and its relation to frozen food packaging and storage, we are talking about "Individually Quick Frozen."
This style of frozen food packaging is incredibly unique due to its ability to individually freeze all elements of a product, with each item separately frozen.
So, if we froze a batch of peas, the peas will not get clumped and stuck together in one massive frozen block of peas. Instead, every single pea will be separated inside the packaging. IQF makes it much easier to freeze and store items such as plumbs, blueberries, corn, salmon, lobster, and pork. It should be noted that the product will "flow" (move through your packaging line) better as it is weighed and packaged.
Technological advances in the ways that products can be frozen are gaining momentum. The speed at which foods can now be frozen has also significantly increased. This results in higher quality products getting to market at a much faster pace than was previously possible.
Storing frozen food has also evolved over time for the manufacturer, who, is ever pressed to produce more, better, faster while still producing top quality for the consumer. However, the main focus of modern freezing technology is focused on the speed that a product can be frozen.
Individual quick frozen technology rests upon "blast-freezing" food products extremely fast. This ultra-cold, ultra-fast freezing methodology results in significantly tiny ice crystal formations to freeze the product. Water turns into ice crystals around 30 to 25º Fahrenheit or -1 to -4º Celsius. IQF Freezers "blast-freeze" food products extremely fast.
The slower and bigger ice crystal formations common with other forms of frozen food packaging can cause cellular damage to the products, which can affect quality, texture, and flavor.
The intensity of cold, and speed of freezing are the primary benefits of the individually quick frozen process.
Slower forms of freezing almost always lead to dryer and, at times, damaged products when they are eventually set to defrost. This leads to your customers having a poor experience with your product.
Initial quick freezing, on the other hand, prevents damage and protects the products that are frozen with it. IQF ensures that the food being frozen will freeze while producing almost no ice crystals inside of the product itself.
This ultra-fast freezing of the food prevents the cells within the food from becoming damaged. Also, it preserves it, which results in a much higher quality end product.
Technically speaking, you can freeze any food product with IQF. Still, the most common types of food that are regularly frozen with individually quick frozen technology includes but is not limited to french fries, peas, corn, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, lobster, shrimp, oysters, clams, pork, chicken, beef, bison, and various other types of produce, meats, poultry and foods prone to spoilage without some form of preservation.