A USD 67 billion market you’ve never heard of

Newsroom 11/06/2019 | 12:08

Have you ever heard of lyophilization? Probably not, unless you work in medicine, food industry or for NASA.

Lyophilization (also known as freeze-drying) is a process in which all water in a product is removed by freezing and vacuuming – which transforms ice directly from solid to vapor, thus bypassing the liquid phase. Boring as it may sound, it’s a process that saved countless lives throughout history (this is how they stored plasma and vaccines during WW2) and nowadays it is used on a large scale in the food industry, because it is the only preserving method that maintains the initial food structure and composition. Not for 6 months, but for anywhere between 3 and 25 years. Other arguments in favour of freeze dried food are the very short cooking time and total lack of artificial toxic additives.

As expected, more and more people are learning the benefits of lyophilized food: according to Mordor Intelligence, a market research company, the freeze dried food market will reach 66.5 million USD until 2021, which is a 20 percent growth compared to 2017.

Within the industry, the fastest growing niche is that of lyophilized cooked meals – virtually every recipe you’re craving for can be freeze dried and eaten at a later time and place, on the top of a mountain, on the beach, in front of your tent or, why not, at home.

Here in Romania, very few people have heard of lyophilization. In fact, the only online store specialized in this kind of products, Dryfood.ro, was established only 2 years ago. “We are targeting two clearly defined customer segments: on the one hand, there are the outdoor aficionados (trekking, alpinism, camping, yachting, mountain bike), on the other hand, it’s the preppers – individuals who actively prepare for emergencies, including possible financial crises, epidemic diseases, natural disasters”, says Bogdan Arnautu, one of the three friends behind Dryfood.ro. Also called survivalists, they will opt for large quantities of emergency food, canned meals with a shelf-life of up to 25 years. “Somehow counterintuitively, our typical clients are very urban: half of them live in Bucharest, and some 45%, in other big cities. They are young (75% of customers are aged between 25 and 45 years old), middle class and, as expected, male.”

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