Did you know High Pressure Processing (HPP) cuts waste, lowers emissions and can help build a healthier, safer planet? The growth of HPP in recent years has been driven by a consumer preference for fresh taste without chemicals or preservatives, but at a processing level the technology’s sustainability and cost-saving advantages have equally made a huge impact.
HPP systems from JBT Avure use ultra-high pressure (up to 87,000 psi or 6,000 bar) and purified, cold water to keep packaged food and beverages pathogen-free and stay fresh longer without preservatives or chemicals. However, it is HPP’s extended shelf-life capabilities that can help the technology really make a difference when it comes to sustainability by cutting costly waste and food losses.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global yearly food losses range from 20% for dairy products to as high as 50% for fruits and vegetables. This waste typically takes place during the distribution and consumption stages.
Studies carried out by JBT Avure have found that for orange juice and sauces, HPP produces a shelf-life of up to 120 days compared with around 10-15 days for non-HPP treatments. Similarly, shelf-life for guacamole can be increased to 40 days and creamy dip to 90 days, from a non-HPP average of five-15 days. These longer expiration dates give shoppers confidence to purchase and consume products they might otherwise discard. From the manufacturing side, HPP’s improved shelf-life capabilities allow companies to reach wider markets, reduce waste volume and the associated costs of waste, such as disposal and energy costs.
However, more than this, HPP also helps sustain product quality attributes for longer. Unlike more conventionally-treated alternatives, HPP products do not exhibit significant product deterioration as their microbiological shelf life nears. Further, in the case of orange juice, a study from the a University of Leuven, Belgium found that HPP-treated Valencia orange juice retains 90% of its vitamin C after 20 weeks of storage. In comparison, orange juice treated with thermal processing was found to have lost more than half its vitamin C over the same timespan.
Research from 2014 also found that HPP can have a positive impact on emissions by reducing energy consumption. Reporting to the International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food, investigators that HPP treatment of a fish and vegetable ready-to-eat meal had a global warming potential more than 20% lower than a comparative treatment using thermal pasteurization. Continuing advances in HPP equipment cycle time and productivity are further reducing energy requirements, and the potential for HPP to create longer shelf life should lead to some popular food items being moved from frozen to chilled processing and distribution, reducing energy consumption in the process.