Leveraging On HPP To Extend Shelf-Life

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The shelf-life of products is growing in importance, especially with the flourishing e-commerce trade today. Jeff Williams, CEO of Avure Technologies, and Jaime Nicolas-Correa, president of Hiperbaric, founding members of the Cold Pressure (CP) Council, give an insight to high pressure processing (HPP) and how this can help.

Cold pressed juices.
In the globalised world of today, manufacturers not only cater to a single market; rather their products can be shipped or flown all over the world according to consumer demand. With this, there is a need for products to have longer shelf-lives, and this is not exactly easy when it comes to products such as meats, dairy, or even fruit juice, which are very susceptible to bacteria contamination over time.

Traditionally, manufacturers have added artificial additives so as to meet this demand for a longer shelf-life. However, with consumers becoming more health-conscious today, they are increasingly less tolerant of such artificial ingredients and manufacturers need resort to looking for natural alternatives.

Another way to meet this demand could be through HPP, which is growing in use throughout the food and beverage industries today, say Jeff Williams and Jaime Nicolas-Correa, in an email interview with APFI.

1. What is HPP, and what are its benefits compared with traditional methods of processing for beverages?

HPP is the methodology of using very intense pressure in order to render pathogens ineffective in food products, such as deli meats, beverages, juices, and dips.

A major benefit of using HPP for beverage processing is how it can extend shelf-life by three or four times in some instances. For example, fresh and natural juices that would typically have a three-day shelf-life have been extended to 9 to 12 days.

Additionally, rather than using heat pasteurisation or chemical additives, both of which can destroy nutrients and alter the taste of the produce, HPP can retain these natural tastes and properties.

2. What applications can use HPP?

While popular applications for HPP have been seen in the beverage industry, specifically accommodating the growing natural juice trend, HPP can actually replace a number of other traditional food processing markets.

These for example, include sliced meats, dressings, guacamole, salsa, dips, sausage links, baby foods, pet food, as well as some other categories like dairy and ready-to-eat meals.

3. Why do you think more manufacturers are adopting HPP today?

A typical HPP system.

There are three major reasons food and beverage manufacturers are adopting HPP as a means of enhancing brands: extending shelf-life, retaining natural flavours, and the fact that the product is already packaged when it hits the processing stage.

Extending shelf-life is important because it accommodates the natural, organic and clean-label consumer trends that are influencing the food and beverage industry. By removing chemical additives, a product’s shelf-life becomes significantly reduced to a matter of days.

HPP extends this shelf-life by a significant factor depending on the application. Further, by eliminating the need for chemical additives or heat pasteurisation, the pure flavours of produce or meat are retained.

Lastly, because HPP operations take place after products have been packaged in flexible packaging, it completely negates the possibility of pathogens or adulterations occurring in the product in-between the processing and packaging stage.

4. How can HPP benefit e-commerce operations?

E-commerce fulfilment can truly benefit from HPP processing. Everyone wants to eat fresh and natural foods, however such products are not necessarily conducive to the e-commerce supply-chain where a food or beverage may sit for an extended period of time until the consumer orders it.

With HPP, suppliers can keep all natural and organic inventories for longer periods of time and reduce waste. In some applications, HPP can extend the shelf-life of juices from three days to 9 or 12 days, and meats from 30 days up to 90 and 120 days.

5. Are there any challenges with HPP, and if so how can manufacturers overcome them?

It is important for manufacturers to know that HPP can be integrated into food or beverage processing, but products will always have to be refrigerated and packaged in flexible packaging like PET bottles, pouches, or bags.

The biggest challenge lies in educating the consumer. There tends to be a negative connotation associated with the word “processing,” and many consumers consider this when purchasing food and beverages.

One of the first orders of business that the CP Council is focused on is creating a better naming convention so the consumer truly understands how HPP is in fact a healthy, sustainable, and practical solution for food processing.

Food manufacturers will also want to consider challenges that may arise when processing foods that have multiple components in a single package. For example, if they are processing a sauce or multi-layer dip, the upper layers may fuse with lower layers when undergoing HPP, which may not be ideal for the consumer.

The CP council was officially launched at ProFood Tech earlier this year held by PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, and show producer and organiser of PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, which will take place from September 25-27 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.