High pressure processing (HPP) is a non-thermal, post-packaged process that is a viable alternative to heat and other food processing methods. It’s a globally recognized natural process that provides food safety and extended shelf-life without damage to nutrients. HPP has become mainstream as more food categories and package options are offered to the market.
A mid-September visit to the Avure Technologies booth at Process Expo revealed a breakthrough development on the equipment side as well as a surprising range of products and packaging that were treated using high-pressure processing, a cold pasteurization treatment.
On the packaged products side, the company's booth displayed the following foods that are HPP pasteurized:
- Hormel Natural Choice lunchmeats, which have been HPP treated since 2007, has introduced new packaging;
- Instinct Raw pet food pouches;
- 1915 brand juices (shown on the next page), introduced in 2015, are the latest among a growing number of HPP-pasteurized “cold-pressed” beverages;
- Guacamole products (and salsas for that matter) have been associated with HPP for years, including products for Sabra, Peak Perfection and Wholly Guacamole brands; and
- Bolthouse Farms salad dressings, packed in PET bottles, were among the most surprising packaged products on display.
Guacamole products in sealed tray packaging have been an HPP staple for years.
We take an inside look at what’s happening in the HPP market from the perspective of Lisa Pitzer, Avure Technologies’ marketing director, who responds to our questions starting with one that points to the company’s new AV-X series of equipment. The AV-X (shown below) is billed as the “world’s first expandable HPP machine,” a system that grows with the processor’s needs. It is available in AV-40X to AV-70X versions, with each number signifying the millions of pounds of product that can be processed yearly by the system from 40 to 70 million.
What’s the reaction to your new modular system?
Pitzer: The interest for the AV-X Series of Machinery has been outstanding—we have discussed it with numerous customers. The new machines will enable a producer to buy the machine that best suits their current needs, but as their company grows and their volume expands, the machine can be upgraded to keep up with increased demand.
These upgradable machines have a flexible design with a smaller footprint to suit individual production needs. The new design also reduces energy consumption by as much as 50%, resulting in lower energy bills for the customer. This is the biggest development in HPP since Avure created the first commercial high pressure processing system more than 60 years ago.
Next: The HPP market, product benefits and packaging...
One of the latest HPP products is in the HPP-dominated cold-pressed juice category: 1915 Juices were introduced this year.
How would you characterize the HPP market?
Pitzer: The HPP Market is still in the growth stage for both HPP end products and HPP equipment. The HPP products market is projected by to grow to $12 billion dollars and for HPP Equipment to grow to $6 billion by 2018, according to a Markets and Markets study.
It is an exciting time for HPP as interest and demand are growing exponentially each year. HPP is moving away from being a novel process to being a normal process. Ten years ago the question surrounding HPP was, “What is this technology?” Five years ago, the question changed to, “Can I afford it?”
Now, it is seen as a normal, not novel, technology so the questions are changing to typical food manufacturing questions. The equipment looks like and feels like other food processing machinery in a food plant. HPP machines can now be evaluated on throughput, cost to operate, and reliability, just like all other food processing equipment.
Has there been an uptick in HPP used for pet foods?
Pitzer: The reason for the pet food trend in HPP is that in recent years the FDA has enacted regulations for pet food. Salmonella is the main culprit, which will not hurt the pet, but pet foods are often handled in the home and could result in secondary contamination to moms, dads or kids.
What role does packaging play in HPP?
Pitzer: The package is critical to HPP success. All the products are in their final package—HPP is a post-packaging process. The package must be a flexible package. Pouches, plastic bottles, cups, trays and tubes all work under HPP. Avure has packaging expertise in house. Correct barrier properties such as OTR, MVTR and UV of the package are critical. The design of the package is also important to prevent damage and optimize throughput.
Also, all HPP products are in the refrigerated space.
The three key advantages that hold true for all HPP-treated products are: food safety to inactivate pathogens such as listeria, E. coli, and salmonella; added shelf life to increase distribution possibilities and decreases costs; and the ability to introduce new products, for example, clean-label foods.
In September, we reported on the launch of bottled gazpacho soup that is HPP pasteurized.
You can read Packaging Digest’s other high-pressure-processing news and articles by clicking here.
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