High-pressure processing in SA – a market disrupting technology

What is HPP and why should the food industry pay attention? FBR Magazine recently put these large questions to Willie Brand, CEO of HPPSA, SA’s only toll producer that operates out of Midrand.

Q: What is HPP and why should the food industry pay attention? FBR Magazine recently put these large questions to Willie Brand, CEO of HPPSA, SA’s only toll producer that operates out of Midrand.

WB: HPP stands for high-pressure processing and it is the only technology in the world that does not use chemical nor heat to preserve and protect food. It uses an all-natural process of ultra-high, cold isostatic water pressure of 6 000 bar. This kills micro-organisms, extending the shelf life and guaranteeing food safety of a fresh product. This is all achieved while keeping the original taste, texture and nutrients intact.

HPP is a market-disrupting technology that not only adds value to current product ranges via guaranteed food safety and extended shelf life, but it also creates the opportunity to create wholly new product ranges.

Everyone in the world wants to keep up with new technologies and trends and even though HPP is not a new technology – it has been around for nearly 30 years – it is still relatively new in South Africa.

At the end of the day, all of us would like to be healthy and understand what we are putting into our bodies. By adding HPP to a product manufacturers can reduce salt, sugars, preservatives and additives thus creating a “clean label” product for consumers.

As the market moves towards HPP as an aid in their manufacturing of products, the benchmark for shelf life and the adding of chemicals and preservatives are being taken to new higher standards.

Q: What are the products that are suitable for this technology?

HPP products are becoming more common on SA shelves.

HPP is applied to products that are fresh and typically distributed through the refrigerated chain. Some of these include: cold pressed juices, guacamole, processed meats, sliced meats, chicken, cheeses, baby food, pet food, dips and sauces and many more.

Any product that can derive a benefit from extended shelf life without utilising extra heat or chemicals or preservatives is suitable for HPP.

Q: What has been the SA market uptake of HPP technology? Has this changed in the last five years? What has prompted this?

Since inception, the market has been extremely interested in the technology and positive about the opportunities that it brings. It did, however, take some time longer before companies were willing to commit to the innovation and change.

Food safety is obviously a concern for all of them but was not necessarily something they would further monetise or put budget towards. Over the last couple of years this changed and HPP became something that companies were willing to pay for, driven by food safety and brand protection, as well as appreciation of other many benefits that HPP holds. For example, a cleaner label for consumers, cost savings in manufacturing, longer shelf life so less food wastage in general, and most, important food safety.

The Listeria outbreak did accelerate our growth but, in our opinion, only sped up the inevitable. The global trends are leaning towards this technology and everyone knows it’s always best to be on the front foot when new technologies come around for the benefit of the company.

Q: The Listeriosis outbreak was certainly a major wake up call for many manufacturers? Have you seen a change in food safety behaviour as a result of this?

Most of the companies that we deal with are have been in business for a long time. They have cpmmitted to the highest standard of food safety and quality excellence long before we were here. The fact is that HPP is not a magical eraser, it does not mean that companies can neglect the quality of their food and no one has done that. If you HPP a bad product you will end up with a bad product that is safe to consume.

Every single one of our clients take quality and safety very seriously. As partners, our fates are intertwined ensuring universal focus and dedication to quality is ensured.The main difference is after the listeria outbreak, the risk to companies was made very apparent.

But humans are still involved, and accidents can happen to anyone. HPP is helpful in a way that if something should slip by the manufacturer, HPP will be there to catch it so that companies can have the ease of mind of not worrying about problems but focus on growing their business. Consumers can purchase products that have gone through this process comfortably knowing their families are safe – creating a win all round.

Q: What is next for SAHPP?

We are working on new and exciting projects so that all South Africans can benefit from the technology and with that expanded our reach to Cape Town increasing our footprint. We are also investigating opening a HPP facility overseas that could open multiple import and export opportunities for safe, longer-lasting fresh products.

Find out more at: www.sahpp.co.za. SA clients who use or have used the technology include Eskort, Sir Fruit, In2Juice, In2Foods, One Juice, Avolands, Enterprise, Meze Foods, Tirolean Meats, Woody’s, little pudding, NutriPick.

Source: FBR Reporter, June 2021 Issue