Make a product for the supermarket like those at home, but with a longer shelf life. It is the main benefit or objective that is achieved with cold pressure or high pressure processing (‘High Pressure Processing’, HPP), a technology that in 2020 tried 1.8 billion kilos of products in the world, with an aggregate business of 18,000 million.
It is a method that consists of subjecting the food, once packaged, to a 6,000 bar pressure for a maximum of three minutes, managing to inactivate the microorganisms responsible for the deterioration of food and preserve the nutritional characteristics of the fresh product.
It has an effect similar to thermal pasteurization, since inactivates bacteria, but does not produce side effects to food, so it is a “very suitable method to produce safe food with high added value”, he assures Andres Hernandez, CEO of Hiperbaric, a company specializing in this technology, With the pressure to which the food is subjected – it would be equivalent to going down to 60 kilometers deep – we respond to the growing social demand for products without additives, since preservatives and colorants or thermal and chemical treatments are replaced, prolonging the preservation period of food and maintaining its nutritional value. In other words, it improves food safety.
However, according to Hernando, in a meeting with the media last Wednesday, the greatest benefit of high pressure is that allow to keep food for weeks. It would multiply between three and 30 times the shelf life of a raw product. Thanks to this, two other advantages arise: it is possible to reach new markets and, in addition, the food does not have to be withdrawn from the market in a short time, so it is an environmentally friendly process, by reducing food waste. “More than 50% of the world’s food is wasted, so if we are able to multiply the life of the product, it is already a clear sustainability index,” says Hernando.
In order to Ramon Just, CEO of APA Processing, the first European company dedicated exclusively to providing food processing services to third parties, the growth of this technology is “unquestionable”. The firm was born ten years ago with the desire to offer this high pressure service to any company that may need it, since it is a technology that, due to the dimensions and characteristics of the machine, requires “a significant investment”.
In these ten years they have processed 35,000 tons of products, of which 6,000 tons were only in 2020. And the use of this technology continues to increase. The trend marks an average annual increase of 15%, reaching a growth in the market for products treated with high pressure by 75% in five years.
As the Hiperbaric CEO explained, Spain is well advanced in the use of HPP. Although 47% of the market is located in the US, in our country the products treated by cold pressure moved a figure of 800 million euros. In 2021, estimates indicate that there will be 1 billion food billings treated by HPP “due to the large number of products that are being launched.”
One of the reasons for the high growth of this technique in Spain is, he explained, the fact that Hiperbaric is a national firm, installed in Burgos. The company was born 20 years ago to develop this technology and it has become one of the great references within the sector, taking over more than 60% of the world market. On the other hand, Hernando also pointed out the fact that
the importance of the Mediterranean diet in our country, “Very much in line with what high pressure contributes to food.”
In Spain, this technology has a greater presence in the juice and beverage industry, but it is beginning to grow in the fish sector, as he explains Carolina Najar, Director of the Food Market at Azti, a Technology Center specialized in Food Technology. Najar believes that with High Pressure Processing technology, one of the main challenges facing the population could be faced: seeing how it will supply a growing population that is living longer.
But living longer means, in his opinion, living better, so it is essential that from a technological point of view a product can be developed that not only incorporates attributes but also a correct taste, an extended shelf life and is safe from the point of view. from a food point of view. And for these challenges, he sees high pressure as “the ideal solution”. This is why GL Foods-SoNatural CEO Douglas Gilman, a company with HPP products, sees high pressure technology as “the future of food.