It’s no surprise that high-pressure processing (HPP) is gaining favor among food processors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Health Canada, European Union and several other authoritative regulator bodies recognize that it can increase shelf life and meet food safety standards without adding preservatives or altering flavor. This makes the technology especially appealing for applications in the ready-to-eat (RTE), fresh juice, dips and salsa and shellfish categories, where freshness, food safety and an absence of chemical preservatives are critical to brand success. HPP can also streamline efficiency on the production line, providing energy- and utility-savings that help companies meet their sustainability goals.
And, the greater adoption of high-pressure processing (HPP) equipment is a strong signal of a growing industry, according to a study produced by Research Report Insights (RRI), Canada. In fact, the HPP equipment market is projected to expand with an estimated CAGR of 12.3% in terms of volume by 2026,
However, before diving into an HPP installation, it is important for food and beverage processors to understand that these are not one-size-fits-all solutions.
To help companies maximize their HPP investment, here are a few considerations to make along the way:
Commitment to a major installation often make sense for larger, more established companies, but smaller companies that lack the same depth of resources and personnel may not have the means to make that investment right away.
Now those companies can reap the benefits of HPP, launching products into the marketplace quickly with the use of third-party service providers. These are independent companies with HPP facilities—essentially, contract manufacturers—that sell time on their HPP equipment. For businesses just starting out or those trying to make the transition into manufacturing from a retail environment, third parties are a great start to achieving the benefits that HPP provides.
On the other end of the spectrum, larger companies may be better equipped to advance their HPP processes with automation that can transform a traditional batch operation into a near-continuous one. The recent availability of continuous technologies stands to provide major boosts to the line efficiencies of processors dealing in higher volumes.
Testing. testing. testing one, two…
Products that use HPP involve pressures between 100-600 MPa (megapascals). That’s a large range, and brands must be able to identify the right amount of pressure for the right amount of time for their respective products.
This level of precision requires testing to determine the optimal pressure/time solution. Companies can either work with third-party service providers to determine their product’s ideal pressure range or work with other HPP solution suppliers to establish the best solution.
As with the adoption of any new technology, there are learning curves. Creating HPP capabilities in-house requires significant capital investment and the necessary education for operators. Food and beverage processors must work closely with equipment and packaging material suppliers to have all the proper protocols in place ahead of an installation. While operators may not necessarily need prior experience with HPP solutions, prior experience with other traditional equipment will provide a more solid foundation for learning the functions of HPP machines. Foundational experience, a clear understanding of new protocols and thorough training on new technologies are all important steps to maximizing HPP’s potential boost to a processor’s bottom line.
As food and beverage processors begin integrating HPP within their operations, they should also be considering ways of educating consumers about the investment they’ve made to deliver preservative-free products that do not sacrifice, shelf life, flavor or quality.
The Cold Pressure Council now provides a pathway for brands to declare their products “High Pressure Certified” with the use of the HPP Cold Pressure Consumer seal.