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?”
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.”
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.
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.