The Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI) has installed a 35l 6kbar pilot plant from Swedish HPP equipment supplier Avure Technologies at its headquarters in Belfast. This is now offering a tolling service – processing suppliers’ products for a fee – to those wishing to add value and extend the shelf-life of high-value chilled products such as seafood, packaged meats and fruit juices.
Avure regional sales and marketing manager Nigel Rogers suggested that one of the main reasons for the renewed interest in HPP was to counter cuts in salt, sugar and fats, which act as natural preservatives, as food is reformulated for health benefits.
On January 13 and 14, AFBI and Avure are running two HPP food seminars in Belfast, aimed at the meat/non-seafood and seafood processing sectors respectively. The seminars will deal with practical aspects of HPP, commercial applications, business cases and the advantages that the technology offers to food producers and retailers for both local and export markets. To find out more about the seminars visit: www.afbini.gov.uk/hpp-event .
Two-year cost recovery
HPP is very effective at killing off pathogens in foods that can cause food poisoning and spoilage. It can be used for most air-free, moisture containing products and avoids the quality problems inherent in traditional thermal and chemical treatments. It also provides improved yields during the ‘shucking’ of raw crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs. “We can get up to 80% yield improvement on crab,” commented Rogers.
However, the equipment is expensive, costing typically between £300,000 and £1m, which puts it beyond the reach of many smaller firms.
While Rogers accepted that the capital cost of equipment was high, he argued that when considering life-cycle costs, costs are actually lower than some thermal processes. He cited the example of fruit juice processing where costs worked at between 4–8p/kg.
“Most people who have got into HPP have recovered their costs in less than two years,” he said. “2010 should be a year when we see significant uptake in HPP.”