The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), an Irish research body based in Northern Ireland, reported renewed interest in the technique at its Belfast facility. Three new juice producers are already producing commercial product at the site, Dr Margaret Patterson, AFBI’s lead scientist for new technology, told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“HPP is an ideal technology for small and medium sized enterprises making high quality products on limited runs,” she said.
Michael Reynolds, md of Vegus – an organic wheatgrass and broccoli sprout juice producer that uses the AFBI’s facility – outlined the technique’s benefits. HPP can overcome breaks in the cold chain during distribution – an essential benefit due to the short shelf-life of fresh wheatgrass juice, he said.
Reynolds told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “I sent it to a distributor in California who asked me: ‘How did you send it halfway around the world without refrigeration and have it stay fresh?’”
Reynolds said his business was growing but declined to disclose production figures. He said the company now sells in the UK, Ireland, Poland, Greece, USA, Canada and Australia and is in talks to start distribution in several others.
The AFBI also reported the use of HPP used in new applications. Originally the technique was developed for the fresh produce and juice sectors. But the AFBI reported more enquiries from manufacturers in other areas such as meat. Processing under high pressure eliminates potential listeria contaminations, said Patterson. “It gives an extra control point check,” he added.
Jeff Winter, md of Deli24, a manufacturer of HPP meat products, which offers other firms a contract manufacturing service, said that there has been an increase in firms interested in the service.
A new range of HPP products from a number of manufacturers will be launched in the New Year but declined to give further details.
But, to become significantly more popular, HPP needed more facilities, said Patterson.
At present, the AFBI and Deli24 HPP facilities were the only ones available for HPP contract manufacturing in the UK, she said. That compares with about 170 sites in the US where the technology is significantly more popular.
Meanwhile, closer to home, HPP is winning growing consumer acceptance, said Patterson. Recent studies in Europe have shown that consumers see it as a “natural” technology that scored quite well among surveyed groups.