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HPP and South Africa: the inside story

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Heinrich Zandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of High Pressure Processing (HPP) South Africa, a company – known as a toller – which makes JBT Avure HPP technology available for small to medium sized food and beverage processors. In an exclusive interview originally published in Avure’s Bon Appetit newsletter, Zandberg explains how he first became involved in HPP and why the technology is rapidly gaining acceptance in South Africa.

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(l-r) HPP South Africa’s Heinrich Zandberg, Willie Brand and Claudio de Freitas

Q: How many years have you been working with HPP technology?

Heinrich Zandberg (HZ): It’s been three years now, but our first installation was in the first quarter of 2017. I went to the University of Pretoria, studying Investment Management for two years, and then my entrepreneurial spirit took hold of me and I stopped. This eventually resulted in me working in the HPP industry in South Africa.

Q: Why did High Pressure Processing South Africa decide to buy a JBT Avure HPP machine?

HZ: In the early days, I did a lot of research on HPP and HPP equipment. It was clear that the JBT Avure HPP equipment had a better reputation and that the vessel itself will last north of 250,000 cycles, whereas the next best option would last only 80,000 cycles. For that reason, as well as the lower running cost of the JBT Avure equipment, it made sense to go with the JBT Avure machines for our business model (Tolling).

Q: In Africa, how long has HPP been a food safety technique?

HZ: HPP has been around in South Africa for about nine years now, but it only recently became popular for food safety because of the Listeria outbreak we had in 2018. Before that, HPP was primarily used on avocado pulp.

Q: Are any other popular foods, unique to Africa, being processed using HPP?

HZ: We have a product called a Vienna sausage that I think is unique to South Africa. It’s mainly made out of pork MDM (mechanically deboned meat), and it is an inexpensive source of protein for a large part of our population.

Q: As an HPP Toller, what are the top three reasons you see sparking HPP’s fast growth?

HZ: In South Africa the top three reasons would be the following:
1. The increasing demand for food safety from retailers and the reduction of salt in products like processed meats and cut meats.
2. Product lines that weren’t previously possible without HPP – for example, cold-pressed juice in retail spaces.
3. The cost of HPP equipment makes it almost unattainable even for big companies in South Africa, so the Tolling model opens a lot of doors for them.

Q: What HPP products do you have in your fridge?

HZ: Vienna sausages (My kids and I like them for hot dogs), cold-pressed juices, avocado pulp and guacamole!

Learn more about JBT Avure and HPP

A slice of success: how JBT FTNON helped Gills Onions boost yield & cut costs

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Minimizing unnecessary labor costs and maximizing yield are two key concerns for any company processing vegetables, fruits and other produce for further consumption, but when it comes to onions one major processor found a workable means of achieving this aim to be strangely lacking. Gills Onions, an Oxnard, California-based company and one of the biggest suppliers of pre-sliced onions to the US foodservice and restaurant sectors, set JBT’s FTNON the task of coming up with a workable solution to these challenges.

The result of several years’ hard work between Gills Onions and FTNON was the Magnetic Onion Peeler, a solution that has enabled the California business to both maximize yield and solve the difficulty of having an easy-to-clean, hygienic onion peeling system. The story behind the successful end result is a testament to how effective close collaboration between a customer and a manufacturer can be. 

Cross-country coverage
Gills Onions’ beginnings can be traced back to 1976 when Steve and David Gill, brothers with a family background in agriculture, purchased 200 acres for onion and vegetable production in Monterey County. Three years later in 1979, a further 200 acres were added and in 1983, the Gill Brothers opened a sustainable onion processing plant, establishing Gills Onions in the process. 

Today, the company farms more than 20,000 acres of diversified vegetable farming, producing two crops a year on a site where the company’s first beginning were established.

“Anybody that peels onions in the world knows us and knows what we do,” says Steve Gill. “At Gills, we produce onions for all the foodservice channels and broadline distributors in the US and Canada, including many of the main restaurant chains.

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Gills Onions’ co-founder Steve Gill

The company grows more than 2,000 acres of onions in California that provides a year-round supply of fresh onions to their Oxnard fresh-cut processing facility. They supply to foodservice, industrial and retail customers throughout the US and Canada. 

Gills’ onion products notably also have an 18-day shelf life; an achievement which significantly sets the company apart from the competition. “The growing process, and how process the onions, results in an additional 10-12 days of shelf-life on average,” adds Gill.

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Mutual understanding
According to co-founder Steve Gill, Gills Onions relationship with JBT can be traced back some 35 years, during which time a mutual understanding of trust and reliability has developed between the two companies. “I’ve been dealing with a single engineer from JBT called Pedro Salcedo for 35 years now,” he explains. “The relationship has been one that’s personal and technology-wise they have always adapted to our needs.”

This relationship of trust formed the basis for Gills Onions setting JBT and its specialist fresh vegetable processing subsidiary FTNON a challenge: to develop an onion peeling solution that could overcome the hygiene and cleaning challenges associated with processing onions. 

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“Nobody likes to peel onions, so as a result onion operations don’t get the attention to shelf life and quality that they need,” explains Gill. 

“When we were looking for an onion peeler, we couldn’t find anything out there that we were able to clean, so that’s what took so long,” he continues. “There’s a lot of peelers in the world, but none of them could meet our expectations. Many of these machines couldn’t be cleaned properly and we found the manufacturers reluctant to work on a more hygienic design. This is part of the reason why the relationship we have with the JBT-FTNON team is so valuable – they wanted to work closely with us to develop the design we needed.”

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Yield increase
However, the unveiling of the onion peeling solution was not immediate. In fact, it took six years’ hard work for the FTNON team to achieve the hygiene, easy-to-clean design that Gills was seeking; work which Steve Gill says has more than paid off.

The result is the FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler 200, a solution whose design, components and materials have been specially developed to ensure it delivers high marks when it comes to yield, hygiene and convenience. To do this, FTNON employs a technology that uses permanent super magnetism, which eliminates the need for wires, tubes, belts and springs, and results in a machine with frictionless components, tremendously reducing the costs of maintenance.

The JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

The JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

“FTNON has done a great job – it’s a hygienic, easy-to-clean machine which has a food-safe onion peeler,” says Gill. “The magnetic part really simplifies it and makes it easier to clean.”

Crucially, Gill says the MOP 200 also helps achieve a 10-15% increase in yield, which he attributes to the ability of the equipment to deliver extremely precise levels of peeling.

“There’s going to be less labor and a higher yield: our two big costs and that’s going to add a lot to the bottom line,” Gill concludes.

Learn more about the JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

JBT y LARCE: una historia de éxito en Costa Rica

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Read this article in English

Costa Rica es el mayor productor a nivel mundial de piñas MD2 destinadas a la exportación, y es el responsable de aproximadamente 75% del mercado. Aunque no es un fruto nativo del país centroamericano, Costa Rica se ha construido una magnífica reputación como productor y exportador de piña desde la década de 1970, un éxito que ha sido capaz de replicar en una amplia gama de sectores, tanto de productos frescos como procesados. Pero lo que quizás muy pocas personas conocen es el papel que desempeñó JBT en la historia de la piña costarricense y el fuerte lazo que la une al país y que sigue vigente hasta el día de hoy.

Distribuidora LARCE, empresa importadora, distribuidora y proveedora de sistemas y equipos especializados para una amplia gama de sectores, asentada en Costa Rica, ha sido pieza fundamental en la historia que tiene JBT con esa nación prácticamente desde el inicio, al contribuir y apoyar en el desarrollo de la marca JBT en industrias tan diversas como frutos frescos, lácteos y salsas de tomate.

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Las primeras piñas
LARCE es un negocio familiar de tres generaciones, fundado en 1949 por Alberto L Arce. Su hijo, Roberto L Arce Sr., estuvo al mando de la empresa hasta 2017, cuando Roberto Arce Jr. asumió el puesto de director general. La relación con JBT – entonces denominada FMC – comenzó unos años después cuando JBT prestó ayuda a LARCE en el combate contra la plaga de mosca de la fruta del Mediterráneo. Esta relación pasó a primer plano cuando, en 1965, la erupción del volcán Irazú cubrió de cenizas buena parte de la ciudad de San José. JBT proporcionó equipo que se utilizó en la limpieza de las calles y aeropuertos de la capital costarricense.

Para la década de 1970, la rápida industrialización dio pie a que LARCE y JBT se abrieran puertas a oportunidades de negocio con una diversidad de empresas dedicadas al procesamiento de jugo y salsas de tomate, productos lácteos, y paletas heladas a base de agua.

No obstante, se puede afirmar que el parteaguas fue la introduccción de la gama de recubrimientos de JBT distribuidos a través de LARCE, acontecimiento que coincidió con la entrada de Del Monte a Costa Rica y la llegada de piñas al país para su cultivo. «FMC ayudó a Del Monte a traer las primeras plantas de piña a Costa Rica y también le abasteció ceras naturales, las cuales seguimos proveyendo a los productores hasta el día de hoy», afirma Roberto Arce Sr.

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(i-d) Roberto Arce Jr; Laura Arce; Roberto Arce Sr

Éxito continuo
Actualmente bajo el mando de los hermanos Roberto Arce Jr. y Laura Arce, LARCE distribuye las soluciones de JBT a clientes como TicoFrut –procesadora de piña y naranja ubicada en la región de Alajuela, al norte de la capital– y Del Oro– especialista en jugos y concentrados ubicado en la provincia noroccidental de Gunacaste. 

TicoFruit abrió la primera planta industrial de extracción de jugo en Costa Rica; LARCE contribuyó a esta fábrica con los primeros extractores de jugo de la empresa y, más adelante, con una llenadora ASEPTIC. «Surgió la necesidad de tener una llenadora ASEPTIC en la planta de TicoFruit, y ha sido un rotundo éxito», detalló Arce. «Los costos de operación son mucho menores que los de cualquier otra máquina de nuestros competidores».

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De acuerdo con Arce, la gama de extractores Fresh’n Squeeze® de JBT, encabezada por la versión recién lanzada del exitoso Multi Fruit Juicer, también se ha visto favorecida en el país, tanto entre los grandes supermercados como con los pequeños productores de jugo.

Por tratarse de una empresa que vende, renta y da servicio al equipo y maquinaria, a Arce no le cabe duda de que LARCE seguirá beneficiándose de su vínculo tan cercano con JBT, relación que, él afirma, ha permitido a LARCE agregar valor a los productos que ofrece.

«Nuestro objetivo es brindar valor añadido y profesionalismo, desde el momento en que el equipo o la máquina está en desarrollo, hasta el servicio y la atención continuas durante la posventa», añadió Arce. «Esta estrategia nos ha permitido ganarnos la confianza de nuestra clientela».

Leer más información sobre LARCE

JBT and LARCE: an ongoing success story in Costa Rica

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Leer este artículo en español

Costa Rica is the leading producer of MD2 pineapples for export worldwide, accounting for an estimated 75% of the market. Although not a native fruit to the Central American country, Costa Rica has built up a formidable reputation as a pineapple producer and exporter since the 1970s; a success that has since been repeated in a variety of other sectors, both fresh and processed. But perhaps what fewer people are aware of is JBT’s role in the Costa Rican pineapple story and the strong connection with the country that endures to this day.

LARCE Distribution, a Costa Rica-based importer, distributor and servicer of specialist systems and equipment across a range of sectors, has been part of the JBT story in Costa Rica almost since the beginning, aiding and assisting the development of the JBT brand in industries as diverse as fresh fruits, dairy and tomato sauces.

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(l-r) Roberto Arce Jr; Laura Arce; Roberto Arce Sr

First pineapples
LARCE is a third generation family business founded by Alberto L Arce in 1949. His son, Roberto L Arce senior, managed the company until 2017 when Roberto Arce Jr took the position of managing director. The relationship with JBT – then known as FMC – started a few short years later when JBT assisted LARCE in the fight against the invasive Mediterranean fruit fly. The relationship also came to the fore in 1965 when the eruption of the Irazú volcano covered much of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, in ash. JBT-supplied equipment helped clean the streets and airports.

By the 1970s, fast growing industrialisation created opportunities for LARCE and JBT with a variety of companies processing dairy, tomato for juice and sauces, and water-based ice pops.

However, arguably the most significant development was the range of coatings supplied by JBT through LARCE, which coincided with the entry of Del Monte in Costa Rica and the arrival of the first pineapples for production in the country. “FMC helped Del Monte bring the first pineapple plants to Costa Rica, and also supplied them with natural waxes, which we are still supplying to producers to present day,” says Roberto Arce Sr.

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Ongoing success
Today managed by siblings Roberto Arce Jr and Laura Arce, LARCE supplies JBT solutions to customers including TicoFrut, an orange and pineapple processor based in Alajuela region north of the capital, and Del Oro, a juice and concentrate specialist located in north-western Guanacaste province. 

TicoFrut was responsible for the first industrial juicing plant in Costa Rica; a facility LARCE contributed to with the company’s first juice extractors, and later an ASEPTIC filler. “There arose a need for an ASEPTIC filler at the TicoFrut plant and it has been a real success,” explains Arce. “The operating costs are far lower than any other piece of machinery from our competitors.”

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JBT’s Fresh’n Squeeze® range of juicers – spearheaded by the recently-launched version of the successful Multi-Fruit Juicer – has also found favor in the country with large grocery retailers and small juice producers alike, according to Arce.

As a company that sells, rents and services equipment and machinery, Arce is in no doubt that LARCE will continue to benefit from its close relationship with JBT; a relationship which he says has enabled LARCE to add value to the products it supplies.

“Our purpose is added value and professionalism, from the moment the equipment or machinery is developed through to ongoing post-sales support and servicing,” adds Arce. “This approach has helped us gain the trust of our customers.”

Learn more about LARCE

Natural XTD: the Avure HPP Toller rated “world’s best”

JBT Avure Marketing Director Lisa Wessels tells the story of how Quebec-based Natural HPP – Canada’s first Avure HPP Toller – came to be rated “the world’s best HPP plant” by Subway auditors.

Natural HPP, in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, near Montreal, started operations in June 2011 and remains the first and only HPP toller in Canada with federal approvals for proteins, seafood, and produce. Tollers are contract processors who HPP treat products for a range of customers.

Essentially “writing the book” on high pressure processing in Canada, Natural HPP was instrumental in the deregulation of HPP in Canada, helping remove it from the “Novel Food” regulation category for most applications effective April 1, 2016. Working closely with Health Canada food specialists over a four-year period, Natural HPP helped moved HPP into the mainstream, which means major savings at every level from the food producer using HPP to the consumer enjoying HPP-treated products.

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World leading
With so much experience, it’s no wonder that Natural HPP has become the epitome of efficiency as an HPP toller.

“We’ve developed an extensive predictive maintenance program over the years,” said Stephane Carrier, Natural HPP’s President and CEO. “This allows us to minimize unplanned downtime for Natural HPP’s customers, saving them time and money.”

Among Natural HPP’s equipment is a JBT/Avure AV-10, which serves as a testament to their rigorous maintenance program as well as the sturdiness of JBT/Avure equipment. Their AV-10 has seen more than 215,000 cycles, more than almost any other AV-10 in operation, and it’s still going strong.

Natural HPP has an extensive HACCP program under Canadian Federal regulation and boasts an SQF-II score of 96%. Auditors from the Subway sandwich chain have dubbed Natural HPP “ the best HPP plant around the world.”

For more information about Natural HPP, check out their website.

This article was originally published in the JBT Avure newsletter Avure HPP Bon Appétit.

Synutra France: how JBT PLF helped make ambitious project a reality

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Construction of Chinese infant formula supplier Synutra’s first operation in France was not only a big step forward for the company, but also for JBT PLF which played a key role in the project from initiation through to completion, as PLF’s Ian Hillaby recalls.

Ian Hillaby has been travelling back and forth between the UK and China for more than 25 years, making contact with key players in China’s powdered infant formula industry. It was on one of these trips, around 10 years ago, that Hillaby initially made contact with Synutra, a Chinese infant formula manufacturer in the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao, which at the time had little in the way of any presence outside the country. 

However, it was not until some five years later that the initial meeting would come to fruition. Remembering their meeting Synutra contacted PLF and Hillaby for advice on an ambitious new project: design and construction of a can making and filling line for their new €230 million manufacturing site in Brittany, France, the company’s first venture outside Chinese borders.

Above: a tour of the Synutra France facility (in French)

Turnkey solution
Brittany was chosen for entirely practical reasons. As a center for milk production in France, the region could provide a steady, reliable source of fresh milk for processing purposes.

PLF was involved at the greenfield site from the very start, advising on the installation of high-speed turnkey canning lines (at that time, almost all Chinese companies used low-speed lines) as part of what would eventually become one of the fastest infant formula lines in the world.

“PLF became involved as Synutra was looking for the ability to manufacture and fill cans, and we were able to offer a complete turnkey solution,” explains Hillaby. 

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Aided by PLF’s already strong reputation for project delivery in the infant powder industry, PLF and Synutra got round a table, as Hillaby recalls, and started looking at what the company was trying to achieve and specific non-conventional options, such as pre-gassing technology. A pioneer in this area, PLF offers a pre-gassing system before the powder reaches the filling line, which maintains a sealed, modified atmosphere from the start to the finished product. As a result, the powder is never exposed to the outside atmosphere before sealing is completed, adding an extra layer of security in the process.

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China expansion
“We took probably 6-8 months from that initial meeting to completing the project design, then another 12-15 months to build and install,” says Hillaby. “There was quite an intense element of guiding, so not only the customer learnt a lot during the process, but there was also a learning curve for PLF as well. But at the end of the day, we got the job done and it’s a fantastic reference for the industry.”

Of course there were challenges along the way, one of the biggest being dealing with Chinese legislation, but Hillaby says Synutra was very happy with the final results; results which have led to a greater involvement for PLF in China. “We’ve just shipped our first line to a local Chinese infant formula manufacturer and we are hopeful that by the end of this year we can confirm further lines for another of China’s major infant formula producers,” Hillaby adds. 

Click for more information about Synutra

Click for details of PLF’s full range of solutions

Perricone Farms: how JBT helped a California juice business go global

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California-based Perricone Farms is a success story that has been two decades in the making. Established in the 1990s by a renowned citrus grower and packer, the business has since become a leading juice processor and marketer, famed for the quality and provenance of its ingredients. JBT – as Perricone readily acknowledges – played a key role in the development and subsequent success of the business, helping the company improve its juice yield by 20% and acting as a partner in a fruitful relationship that continues to the present day.

Perricone Farms CEO Bob Rovzar has been well-placed to have witnessed the evolution of the Beaumont, California business since it first launched its juice processing venture almost two decades ago. The company’s initial contact with JBT came in the late 1990s under the leadership of JBT’s North America Director of Sales Donn Sabato who approached what Rovzar describes as “a little juice plant in Southern California”. “At that time, our plant paled in comparison to larger juice companies in the US, especially in the West,” recalls Rovzar. “But even in those early days, JBT always treated us as a valued customer and spent time with us. They were a valuable partner as we established the business.”

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Technical expertise
Perricone Farms as a juicing operation was first established by current managing director Joe Perricone’s father Sam; an industry icon who at the time was a large grower and packer of fresh citrus. The move into juice took place after Perricone acquired a small juicing company – and client of Perricone – that was struggling with financial difficulties.

The juicing business began in earnest with four JBT extractors, plus two non-JBT pieces of machinery – a piecemeal fruit unloading system and a used finisher. “JBT supplied technical expertise, explaining how we should be extracting and setting-up the machinery, as well how to get the maximum yield out of a plant that ran multiple varieties of fruit,” says Rovzar. The company, he recalls, also had a make-shift sizer that was jerry-rigged and made from spare parts.

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Market evolution
In its early days, Rozvar says Perricone was 90% focused on orange juice production, and although it remains important, as the market has evolved, so the company has developed a much broader base of juices. Orange juice today accounts for around 50% of Perricone’s production, with the other half sourced from lemons, limes, grapefruit and tangerines. These juices are sold to high-end restaurants and hotels, grocery retail under the Perricone Farms label or retailer owned brands, and to a lesser extent to foodservice distributors and food ingredients processors.

Although the majority of Perricone Farm’s juices are sold within the Western US, the company has begun in more recent times exporting to the Far East and some volumes to Mexico. “In California, the majority of fruit is destined for the fresh market, but because we are part of the Perricone family of companies, we have access to fruit in-season and also benefit from our close proximity to Mexico during the winter months,” says Rovzar.

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Leap forward
What has really helped Perricone make a commercial leap forward, says Rovzar, was a move into purpose-built new facility with considerable help and assistance from JBT. “With JBT’s help and support, we have been able to completely rebuild and redo our juice extraction operation without shutting down our existing extraction line,” he explains. “This has been important because we extract juice 365 days a year. 

“For several years, people on both side – JBT and Perricone – said the extraction line could not be replaced without shutting down the existing operation, but JBT found a way of running both lines simultaneously for a month while the new operation was put in place. Through JBT’s help, we were able to provide a seamless transition to our customers and we couldn’t have done it without the support, dedication and commitment we received from JBT, from the engineers right up to top management.”

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“The process works when the customer takes your information and implements the changes and or suggestions,” explained JBT’s Donn Sabato. “Perricone, to their credit, took the information we presented to them and put it into action under Bob and Joe’s leadership. This area is why Perricone has grown so dramatically in the last few years based on Joe and Bob’s leadership – they are action oriented and work their plan to fruition.”

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Surpassing forecasts
Moving into the new facility, Perricone implemented the new extraction line with JBT’s partnership and assistance, with the result that it far surpassed the original forecast. “We improved our yield by 15-20% compared with the original forecast 8-10%,” says Rovzar. “It allowed us to capitalize on being able to extract the fruit when it is available and to become competitively positioned in the market. Being able to extract 20% more juice means that we are now better able to satisfy our customer base with juice that was previously going to waste.”

Perricone today has eight extractors, two brand-new finishers and a sizer – all sourced from JBT. It is also investing in new JBT-supported fruit unloading system, which will provide substantial support on effectively handling fruit through to loading into tanks for processing. JBT has also helped establish a citrus oil recovery system at the plant. “We are optimistically looking at other opportunities for working together with JBT in the future,” adds Rovzar. “JBT is our first choice for working together.”

Learn more about Perricone Farms

Learn more about JBT’s juicing solutions