The company is installing High Pressure Processing (HPP) technology from Hiperbaric at its facility in Wales, and will use it to produce juices, smoothies, and coconut water from April.
The technology is designed to deactivate bacteria using pressure, not heat, and claims to retain the full taste and nutritional content of the drink.
'The Big Benefit? It doesn't change any of the nutrients?'
David Taylor, sales and marketing director, Fruitapeel, told BeverageDaily.com the technology taps into a consumer trend for all-natural, nutritious products – and can open up opportunities for new products in this category.
“For consumers, the big benefit is it doesn’t change any of the nutrients, and the taste doesn’t change at all,” he said. “What you end up with is as close to raw juice as you can have, but with the safety of a long life.
“People are trying to get back to as close to natural as possible, and HPP allows you to do that. Consumers appreciate the benefits, even if they don’t understand the technology.”
Fruitapeel Juice supplies fruit juices, smoothies, and fruit sauces for own label brands (customers include Iceland and British Airways) as well as producing its own range. It entered the category in 2009, taking over the former SunJuice factory in South Wales.
It currently has two facilities: one for pasteurized products in PET bottles, and another for aspetic cartons.
HPP technology uses pressure (not heat like traditional pasteurization) to deactivate bacteria. It will provide a longer shelf life for Fruitapeel (its HPP products will have a 45 day shelf life, compared to 21 days for its pasteurized juice) without affecting the taste or nutritional content of the product.
Taylor has seen HPP make leaps in America, and is sure the UK will follow suit.
“Instead of pasteurizing as part of the manufacturing process, you don’t heat the product at all," he said. "Instead, the product is filled into a PET bottle, and - once it’s packed in the final packaging - pressure is applied.
“Pressure deactivates the bacteria for far, far longer. Orange juice would have a shelf life of 21 days: now it’s at least double that.
“When you talk to people in retail, one big issue is wastage. While HPP costs a little more, you can save that amount – and more – down the other end of the line.”
Can Fruitapeel drive down HPP costs?
Taylor says Fruitapeel Juice’s installation can offset the higher costs associated with HPP processing.
In the UK, HPP technology is currently only available from stand-alone ‘toll-packers,’ Taylor said, meaning manufacturers have to transport their product in order to treat it. Fruitapeel will be able to extract juice from fruit, bottle it, and treat it with HPP all on one site: saving time and money in transportation.
For brands operating on a small scale, a batch of juices treated with HPP has less waste during production than a pasteurized batch, Taylor added.
But do all these factors drive the cost of HPP down to a point where it is comparable with other technology?
“That’s the ultimate goal,” said Taylor. “At this point of time I don’t think it does, but it opens up the opportunity for products that don’t exist at the moment.
The technology will allow Fruitapeel to focus on new products - which would otherwise require preservatives or be affected by heat treatment - and appeal to a health conscious consumer.
“We could go one way and drive the cost down, but we’re looking at it as a way to open the market.”