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Pure Spoon and Avure: How HPP helped baby food brand to mainstream success

A unique aspect of the High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) technology developed by JBT’s Avure business is that it can deliver an extended shelf life for liquid foods with a minimal impact on flavor, texture or nutritional content. Retaining a fresh taste and the maximum amount of nutrients has been crucial to the success of Pure Spoon, an innovative baby food brand whose HPP-pasteurized products can now be found on the shelves of top US grocery retailers, such as Whole Foods, Kroger and Walmart, and are available on line at Amazon.com, Jet.com, Amazonfresh.com and purespoon.com

When new mom and entrepreneur Alyson Eberle began initial planning for what would eventually become Pure Spoon, she found HPP offered a way of keeping the product as fresh as possible while maintaining the food’s all-important nutrients, giving Pure Spoon the ability to extend its product line of nutrient-packed purees across the US.

“Parents across the US are demanding fresher, better options for their babies, but don’t have time to make every meal at home,” Eberle explains. “I wanted to fill the massive gap between the nutrient-lacking, over-processed options available at the stores and the fresh meals I was making at home. But how do you keep the product fresh?”

Pure Spoon’s Alyson Eberle

Unique benefits
A newspaper article about High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) technology first drew Eberle’s attention to the possibilities offered by HPP systems, which led her to make contact with Avure.

“Baby food hasn’t really changed since Gerber introduced it over 70 years ago,” she says. “The only innovation that has happened in that time is that manufacturers are putting it in pouches as well as jars, which I think is a minus because you can no longer see the food that your children are eating.

“Up until now, many manufacturers have been using high heat sterilization or pasteurization, which kills so much of the food – the flavor, the texture, the color, and most importantly the nutritional content – so when you are talking about babies, HPP made so much sense.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT HPP TECHNOLOGY

As Avure CEO, Jeff Williams, explains, HPP systems are unique in their focus on cold rather than hot pasteurization for liquid foods; a process that has almost no impact on taste or flavor.

HPP technology works by taking liquid foods contained in flexible packaging and subjecting them to cold water at extremely high pressures – 87,000 pounds per square inch or 6,000 BAR – which has the effect of inactivating pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria or E.coli.

Understanding HPP
Support from Avure during Pure Spoon’s adaptation to HPP processes was a key element of the company’s success, says Eberle, who worked over a four-year period, full-time and part-time, during the genesis of the brand.

“Avure has been very helpful as they support entrepreneurs in expanding HPP in new categories,” she says. “They told me, let’s try it, this is what you need to be mindful of, and this what HPP can and cannot do. Having food experts who understand HPP on a micro level and what it can do for food means the technology can be applied to categories that haven’t seen HPP before.”

Of course, the process did not stop with pasteurization and Eberle explains that Pure Spoon has since spent considerable energy, time and money educating consumers about the benefits of HPP technology. “We have different ways of communicating depending on who our audience is, but the focus is on explaining to consumers how HPP allows us to lock in more flavor and, most importantly, more nutrition into the food.  And when you are feeding babies, that is critical,” Eberle adds.

PLF International joins JBT family

JBT Corporation has announced the acquisition of UK-based PLF International (PLF), a specialist manufacturer of filling machines and complete turnkey line project management for the fast-growing global powder product market. With demand increasing worldwide for powdered products, especially for powdered infant formula and nutraceuticals, the acquisition will enable JBT to bring PLF fillers – which combine with JBT’s own seamers – to a much wider marketplace.

Since 1994, PLF International has designed and manufactured what is considered to be one of the most flexible, user-friendly powder filling machines in the world. PLF’s range of filling machines are all built to facilitate the stringent demands of the food, beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, being easy to clean with minimum giveaway and gentle product handling. They can be semi or fully automatic and are built so performance can be enhanced to meet production demands.

“JBT and PLF have collaborated on numerous, successful projects over the past ten years,” said Tom Giacomini, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Specifically, customers have purchased PLF fillers and JBT closers as part of an integrated solution. Adding PLF’s expertise and complementary products to Liquid Foods provides a valuable extension to our portfolio. Additionally, we can expand PLF’s business geographically and strengthen its aftermarket opportunities.”

“PLF provides a unique filler that is an improvement on most of the competition as there is very little product breakdown and giveaway,” explained Carlos Fernandez, President and Managing Director of JBT’s Liquid Foods business. “PLF’s filler and ancillary products can be used in conjunction with JBT’s closer to complete an integrated line solution, so this is a very complementary acquisition for us, which will also give us access to the fast-developing powdered product market.”

PLF Managing Director Mark Emond commented: “We were seeking a long-term steward for PLF going forward and feel comfortable that in JBT we have the ideal partner given that we have worked so well together in the past. With JBT’s focus on innovation, technology and customer care, we are leaving our business in the best possible hands.”

As well as powdered infant milk, the integration of PLF will also open the door for JBT to enter the powdered nutraceutical and added vitamin drink segment; a market that will again complement JBT’s existing business, Fernandez added.

PLF International was founded in Harwich, Essex in 1994, and has progressed and grown into the leading global supplier of vacuum and volumetric filling machinery and complete turnkey lines for the powder product market. With a multinational, blue chip customer base, PLF has become the technology of choice for infant formula and nutraceuticals as well as other high value products. With no augers in the filling process, product integrity is assured and dust minimized. PLF employs 60 people and is based in the south east of England.