Deli 24 first installed its HPP equipment in 2010 when it set up its meat and cheese snack food manufacturing business.
The high-pressure processing technology has been successfully used in other countries for years in meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, dips and fruit juice applications. The process pasteurises produce within its finished packaging. The pressure of up to 6,000 bars of cold water causes lethal cell damage to bacteria, moulds and yeast but leaves the shape and texture of the food – and its packaging – intact.
“There are about 200 HPP kits worldwide, with just over half of them in the US,” said Jeff Winter, Deli 24 md. He said the firm invested in the kit to help extend his products' shelf-life “from a couple of weeks to in excess of 50 days” – something that has helped Deli 24 compete with other snack manufacturers.
"We immediately saw how the HPP technology could add value to our own product range, and after discussions with manufacturer NC Hyperbaric and discussions with Interfood, we decided to invest in the Wave 6000 machine," he added.
In addition to using the equipment for the Deli 24 brand, Winter has pioneered a “twin strategy” of offering a tolling service facility in which processors or retailers can toll their finished products using the HPP kit.
Firms are using the kit to treat products with high microbiological loading to allow further use, to extend the shelf-life of existing products or individual ingredients, as well as part of the innovation process where the cold pressure process can provide unique characteristics.
“Our customers range from meat, shellfish and dairy manufacturers to drinks and ambient producers. It is quite a disparate range of applications, but that shouldn't be a surprise, because the HPP is treating a sealed range of products so there is no risk of cross- contamination,” he said.
Extend the factory
Winter has secured planning permission to extend the factory and hopes to have the second HPP kit installed in April next year.
“When we looked around the world at what was being done with HPP, we saw the most common scenario was that a firm that invested in HPP created a central hub that brought together a range of firms to use it. This is a common approach because of the expense of the equipment and the expertise needed to operate it,” said Winter.
Research body the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast also offers HPP tolling facilities.