HPP Coming to a Grocery Store Near You

High pressure processing (HPP) is becoming increasingly popular for food and beverage manufacturers who want to keep their food safe, nutritious and tasting great. 

What is HPP?

High pressure processing (HPP) is a food safety solution that inactivates harmful foodborne bacteria, while maintaining a food’s quality, nutrition and freshness. It also serves up additional benefits like clean label and extended shelf life.

As consumer demand for fresh-tasting foods and beverages continues, HPP is quickly gaining ground in the U.S. and worldwide. The global high pressure processed food market reached approximately $9.8 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach a market value of $54.7 billion in five years, according to a May 2019 study in Food Research International. By 2015, more than 300 plants were installed in the world where more than 500,000 tons of food were produced by HPP, representing 27 percent in meat, 27 percent in fruit and vegetables, 20 percent in dairy and egg products, 14 percent in beverages and juice and 12 percent in seafood., according to the study.

Many food manufacturers are using HPP as an alternative to heat pasteurization for refrigerated foods and beverages. In addition to food safety, HPP enables shelf life extension, as the process eliminates microorganisms that spoil food and make people sick. This is good news for food manufacturers, retailers and consumers. 

How does HPP work?

“High-pressure processing takes ready-to-eat foods, already in their final packaging, surrounds the packages with water, then subjects them to isostatic pressure up to 87,000 pounds per square inch – more than six times the pressure of the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean trench on Earth,” according to Cornell University, which uses a Hiperbaric 55 at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Cornell’s HPP Validation Center studies the effect of HPP on food.

HPP is best suited for fresh, ready-to-eat foods like cold-pressed beverages and juices, deli meats, guacamole, dips and salsa, hummus and dairy foods. Other uses include baby food and even pet food. 

What are the advantages of HPP?

Currently, the most common process used by food manufacturers to kill harmful pathogens like listeria, salmonella and E. coli involves heat treatments. But that’s doesn’t work well for fresh foods like juices, wet salads, deli meats and dips, because heat changes the food’s flavor, texture and some nutritional components, according to Cornell. For this reason, HPP has become the preferred food safety method of choice.

There are a few main manufacturers of HPP machines, including Hiperbaric, Avure, ThyssenKrupp AG and a few others. Hiperbaric is the world leader in HPP technology and HPP equipment, with 60 percent market share. According to Hiperbaric, HPP’s main advantages include:

  • Ensures fresh food qualities. HPP allows foods to have that homemade taste of freshly squeezed juice and homemade 
  • Destroys pathogens (Listeria, Salmonella, Vibrio, Norovirus, etc.). Food safety and exportation.
  • Extends product shelf life. Lower returns, improved customer satisfaction.
  • Reduces drastically overall microbiological spoiling bacteria. Higher quality along shelf life.
  • Avoids or reduces the need for food preservatives. Clean label foods (Natural/Additive Free).
  • Creates new innovative foods. Products that cannot be thermally treated can now be High Pressure Processed: Innovation and competitive advantages
  • Enables extracting crustacean meat without boiling: Higher yields, fresh flavor, minimum hand labor
  • Only needs water (which is recycled) and electricity: Environmentally friendly.

HPP History

High pressure processing has been around since the 1800s, but only recently has become more widely used. HPP was named after Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French scientist who studied the effects of pressure on liquids. For this reason, high pressure is sometimes referred to as pascalization.

The first experiments using pressure on microorganisms were recorded in 1884, including studies on preventing milk from spoiling. Other experiments were conducted in the 1900s but were met with mixed success. 

One of the early pioneers of HPP technology was Hiperbaric, the world leader in HPP equipment and technology, which invented the horizontal HPP machine design that is in use today. So innovative was its design that the company was awarded the Edison Award recognizing innovative research and creativity. 

HPP machines come in different sizes for small to large-scale food productions. Packaging is of utmost importance for HPP as it must undergo high pressure and water. 

High pressure processing machines can be purchased by food manufacturers directly or many companies use tollers, or third-party providers, to HPP their foods.

Where can you find HPP foods?

Stroll through your favorite supermarket and you will find many HPP foods. In the fresh juice aisle, you will see organic, cold-pressed juices like Suja that boast organic and natural ingredients. In the dips and sauces aisle, you will find Good Foods guacamoles, salsas and hummus. In the deli section, you may find Applegate products that are HPP’d, such as its Oven Roasted Turkey Breast.  

New HPP juices and foods are coming on the market in the U.S. and across the world every day, from New Jersey to Singapore. Consider HPP almond milk, HPP smoothies made with chicken protein and even HPP basil – the sky’s the limit. Love lobster? There’s a company in Maine that uses HPP to deshell and process lobster humanely. 

Future of HPP

The future of HPP looks bright, as food and beverage manufacturers look for ways to produce foods with fewer preservatives. 

A growing movement is underfoot to educate retailers and consumers about HPP. The Cold Pressure Council is an industry organization that is doing just that and is encouraging companies to apply for the High Pressure Certified seal so that consumers will look for the HPP label. The Council holds industry events to educate food and beverage companies and others about the benefits of HPP.

Today, some of the newer uses of HPP are baby food and pet food. Many may remember actress Jennifer Garner taste-testing baby food in her promotion of her baby food company, Once Upon a Farm, on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Once Upon a Farm uses HPP for its baby food to maintain the freshest ingredients. Also, companies like Steve’s Real Food are employing HPP for their raw pet food.

There’s no doubt about it. One day, HPP will become a household word like organic, natural and GMO-free, as more people learn about this amazing food processing solution. 

Alpine Communications is proud to represent the leader of the HPP industry, Hiperbaric.