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Azersun calls on Olympus Automation to feed trapped Mount Sinjar refugees

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By Jenny Eagle+

Last updated on 14-Aug-2014 at 14:07 GMT

Azersun Olympus Automation Mount Sinjar refugees

Olympus Automation is flying application specialist Stuart Rigby to an undisclosed location in Turkey to provide training on its Steam Infusion technology before it is deployed to feed refugees in Northern Iraq.

Abdolbari Goozal, president, Azersun, one of the largest food producers in Azerbaijan, called on the UK engineering firm after seeing the plight of refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar and has chosen to fund costs for the equipment himself.

Quick to respond

Stuart Rigby

Steam Infusion is a rapid cooking system that can make lentil soups, rice and provide a clean source for drinking and washing water. The heating and mixing process can make 4,000 portions of hot food an hour.

Harry Norman, managing director, Olympus Automation, told FoodProductionDaily it got the call from the president of Azersun two days ago.

Time is clearly of the essence. Olympus Automation has been quick to respond and a system will be shipped next week,” he said

Normally systems take 24 weeks to manufacture, but this is clearly not a normal situation, lives are at stake and we will be able to deliver a Steam Infusion cooking system in a week.

The technology is four times faster than traditional processes making the equipment ideal for feeding lots of people, hence the call from the president.”

Humanitarian crisis

Soldiers from the militant group Islamic State (IS) have seized parts of northern Iraq in recent months and the United Nations called the situation a ‘level three emergency’ this week, its highest level of humanitarian crisis.

The UN claimed tens of thousands of people, most from religious minorities, were besieged on the mountain after being forced to flee their homes and planes have been dropping aid supplies on Mount Sinjar for several nights.

The US said it carried out its seventh air-drop of food and water on Wednesday, and had delivered more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons (160,000 litres) of drinking water to those trapped.

The US has also continued to conduct air strikes on IS targets in Iraq's north.

Steam Infusion

Olympus Automation’s Steam Infusion uses a 6-Bar steam flow through a nozzle (atomiser) increasing its velocity to 1,000 m/s. On entry to the steam infusion chamber it creates a partial vacuum. The food product in the chamber is vaporised, infused with steam and re-condenses in milliseconds, causing instantaneous heating and mixing.

The condensation of the liquid ‘trapped’ in the vacuum is surrounded by steam which is absorbed into the food product. Due to the vacuum the temperature elevation is limited to 85°C. Every pass through the unit results in a temperature rise of 15°C, instantaneously.

With starches the low pressure and rapid heating profile causes a greater degree of volume swell; by increasing the volume it is possible to improve the concentrated taste and flavour compounds in the water phase via physical exclusion. As a result, the use of ingredients such as salt and other spices can be reduced with no change in flavour.


Azersun's growth in the last two decades has seen the expansion of its product range, with its main products now including tea, cooking oils and margarines, sugar, and hazlenuts.

In addition to its food processing plants, in 2006 it expanded into agricultural production with the launch of subsidiary Azersun Kend Teseffufati, which is now active in several regions of the country, growing sugar-beet, soy, tomatoes, barley, peas, corn and other products.

The company has around 27% of the food market in Azerbaijan, though it can account for up to 50% in some market segments, according to Goozal.

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