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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.

The T-Series Bin Scrubber: fast, efficient cleaning for packers and processors

JBT has completed the successful installation of a T-Series Bin Scrubber system at Setton Farms, a California-based pistachio processor. The T-Series is a high capacity model designed to clean tall, non-vented bins.

Now operational at the company’s 80-acre pistachio processing facility in Terra Bella, California, the T-Series Bin Scrubber is a new variation on JBT’s original Bin Scrubber; a system that provides efficient bin cleaning with a smaller footprint than alternative systems.

Most tall bins are currently cleaned by hand which is expensive and inconsistent. The JBT T-Series Bin Scrubber System provides a means to achieve fast and effective cleaning for processors that use field bins.

In addition to other proven benefits of the original model, including mechanical scrubbing and adjustable cleaning cycles, the T-Series Bin Scrubber features a telescoping brush, which ensures all internal surfaces are cleaned. Included on this new design is a rinse feature for non-vented bins and manifolds which sprays water directly into the bin during cleaning. Customers also have the option of adding blowers for rapid drying of the interior of bins after rinsing.

As Hassan Khan explains, the Bin Scrubber System also allows companies to make long-term utility costs savings due to its use of recycled chlorinated water. This means the customer uses less water, which adds to the equipment’s already low energy consumption.

Khan says the feedback received from Setton Farms has been immensely positive, with the collaboration likely to continue going forward. “They love the system,” he says. “It’s working well for them. They are thinking of adding another unit because they have such a large plant, but that is still in the works.”

“This new equipment has allowed us to open our market to the tree nut industry, whether that is almonds, pistachios or walnuts,” he adds. The T-Series Bin Scrubber will likely be presented at the upcoming trade shows.

Dairy innovator Arla Foods adds JBT automated vehicles

Arla Foods, the world’s largest manufacturer of organic dairy products, has invested in four JBT automated vehicles for its cheese factory in Taulov (Denmark) – vehicles that have a proven record of reducing pallet and product damage.

An international dairy company owned by 12,700 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, Arla markets a wide range of high quality dairy products, including well-known brands Lurpak® and Castello®.

The company focuses on eight dairy categories: milk and powder, milk-based beverages, spreadable cheese, yogurt, butter and spreads, speciality cheese, Mozzarella and value-added whey.

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Automated solution
Arla’s fully-automated JBT vehicles will transport full and empty trays between two levels of gravity racking, two production cells, and a storage area within the plant. SGV Manager software controls the SGVs and communicates with the Arla host system.

To start the process, the Arla host computer issues a movement request to the SGV Manager, which dispatches a SGV to perform the task. The vehicle travels to the designated pick-up location, performs the pick, and delivers it to the drop-off position. On completion, the SGV reports back to the SGV Manager, which then updates Arla’s host system.

The SGV System supports two robotic filling lines within the facility, bringing empty trays to the conveyor in-feed, and once filled with blocks of cheese delivers them to high bay storage.

The SGVs, which automatically exchange batteries during operation, are equipped with a standard fork attachment that allows them to transport pallets of full and empty trays. They can lift 2m high and can interface with conveyors and racking.

For more details on Arla Foods and the JBT vehicles, click here

 

 

Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients: The sweet taste of success

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Welcome to the first edition of The Liquid Foods Blog, a free service featuring interviews and product news from JBT Corporation for the food and beverage sector.

JBT has worked closely with sweet potato processor Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients since the fall of 2013 to deliver a state-of-the-art production facility, which will be used to process sweet potato juice, to be used in products such as health drinks, sauces, and vegetable/fruit juices.

The concept began life four years ago when John Kimber – now Chief Operating Officer – teamed up with an agricultural engineering professor from North Carolina State to develop further markets for sweet potatoes. The resulting concept, refined through several iterations, provided a value-added use for off-grade sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes not of the size or shape for sale into the fresh market) through production of juice and dehydrated sweet potato granules.

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Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients was created in early 2014 with a view to commercializing this concept and work is now underway on a new production facility.

CIFI President Jim Nagy explains how JBT has played a key part in the company’s development and how CIFI’s plans came to fruition with JBT’s assistance.

Ingredients using sweet potatoes are of course your main focus – could you tell us a little more about the kinds of products you will deliver?

Jim Nagy

Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients’ Jim Nagy

CIFI will take off-grade sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes of the wrong size or shape for sale fresh and of limited value – and generate two product streams, a sweet potato juice and a dehydrated sweet potato granule.

The sweet potato juice can be sold with limited further processing – as a single-strength juice – or be concentrated and then filtered. It can be packaged either refrigerated, frozen or aseptic.

The dehydrated sweet potato granules also can be sold with limited further processing (resembling a granola-type texture) or be ground into flours of various particle sizes.  Orange sweet potatoes are the initial focus but CIFI will have the capability to process other sweet potato types – purple, white or Murasaki, for example – or even other locally grown fruits and vegetables.

The CIFI factory will be have a number of certifications:  SQF, Kosher and Organic, among others.

All CIFI sweet potatoes will be sourced and processed within the United States.

In terms of markets, what kinds of segments will CIFI supply?

For the juices, CIFI hopes to supply a number of market segments.  Sweet potato juice concentrate is already a component of many large fruit/vegetable juice blend brands – CIFI will be the first major all-domestic supplier able to compete in this segment.

Sweet potato juice, through its inherent nutritional value, is also a growing component for use in health drinks, dressings, sauces, and baked items. The dehydrated sweet potato granules are already used extensively in the pet food market.

The gluten free property of the dehydrated sweet potato granules and flour makes it attractive for a number of human food markets. For example, as a flour component for baked goods or as a component in nutrition bars.

How important is sweet potato as an ingredient for juices? 

Sweet potato field in North Carolina

Sweet potato field in North Carolina

Sweet potato juice – through its nutritional value as a vegetable, natural sweetness, and GMO-free properties – is an important ingredient for a growing number of vegetable/fruit juices.

Consumer attitudes toward sweet potatoes as an ingredient are also extremely favorable (one example of perception and reality actually in sync).

A market study CIFI commissioned through a local university revealed that:

  • Six out of 10 consumers view sweet potato juices as healthier than leading fruit-based sweeteners.
  • 95% of consumers perceive sweet potato as a healthy food.
  • 67% of consumers would pay more for products containing sweet potato ingredients.

 

How did Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients’ collaboration with JBT begin?

CIFI began working closely with JBT during the initial conceptual stage of the company. JBT actually was recommended by the same N.C. State professor who worked with John Kimber during the early days to develop the concept that ultimately resulted in CIFI.

JBT was instrumental in assisting CIFI engineers in defining, selecting and refining the optimum equipment for the proprietary process which was subsequently developed.

The very first, as well as the second, pilot run trials to validate the CIFI process took place at the JBT pilot plant in Lakeland, Florida. Undoubtedly, without the support and partnership of JBT, CIFI would not be at its current position – on the verge of initiating operations at a state-of-the-art production facility.

What JBT products does Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients currently use?

The CIFI plant currently under construction will use a JBT manufactured finisher, a JBT designed TASTE evaporator, a JBT manufactured sterilization/aseptic system and a JBT manufactured aseptic filler.

More importantly, JBT has been the primary designer, integrator, and supplier of the majority of the juicing systems – piping and mechanical integration of juicing equipment from multiple suppliers, design and installation of a number of juice processing operations, and design and installation of an elaborate clean-in-place system.

How have these products made a positive difference to what your company?

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CIFI’s new facility in Nash County

As indicated above, without JBT’s assistance and collaboration, CIFI would not be on the verge of initiating operations at a state-of-the-art production facility.

The high quality level of the JBT supplied equipment and equipment design/installations are of obvious importance.

But what has made a true difference for CIFI will not be readily apparent when viewing the beautiful stainless steel plant in operation. The true difference is the high quality advice, collaboration, and hard work provided by the JBT team in support of CIFI since our initial contact.

The pilot runs performed at the JBT pilot plant were invaluable in helping CIFI learn the process requirements – the attentiveness and patience of the JBT team working with us at the plant affirmed to CIFI quickly that JBT was the right equipment supplier – providing solutions as well as equipment.

The advice and support provided by Tom Eggleston, our JBT sales representative, and Greg Schrader, our JBT technical representative, have been world class. The high quality equipment JBT provides is important – but additionally, CIFI has learned, the high quality support and technical resources JBT provides with that equipment is even more important.

Do you anticipate you will broaden your collaboration with JBT?

We have big plans for CIFI’s future – increased production capacity for sweet potato processing as we further develop the market, juicing of other locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as a number of other growth opportunities.

Undoubtedly, we will continue to work with JBT as our future develops.