The global food industry consists of diverse segments, each dependent on one another to achieve their desired results. Agriculturalists cultivate livestock and crops, which are sent to processing facilities, and then transported to local stores and supermarkets; though every part of this process has its challenges, the main concern is ensuring consumers receive the highest quality goods.
Consumer safety and satisfaction are critically important to the food industry, and as such, professionals are continually developing new products and practices; one of the latest and most promising of these developments is known as High Pressure Processing.
What is High Pressure Processing?
High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a specialized cold pasteurization technique in which previously sealed food products are exposed to immense hydrostatic pressure (or pressure transmitted by water). Depending on the specific type of product, this process can take a few seconds or even a few minutes.
Combined with cold or ambient temperatures, hydrostatic pressure over 400 MPa eradicates bacteria, mold, yeast, and other common food contaminants.
HPP is an environmentally friendly process that maintains the nutritional and flavorful characteristics of food products. Moreover, the use of HPP extends food product shelf life and is much safer compared to traditional thermal and chemical treatment processes that can cause spoilage.
During the 1990s, food professionals began utilizing HPP in the creation of unique packaging products. Over 20 years later, HPP packaging is a leading solution among food distributors and retailers worldwide.
Benefits of HPP Packaging
As any professional can attest to, packaging plays a vital role in both preserving and marketing food products. By utilizing HPP packaging for their products, companies are provided with several notable benefits:
- HPP packaging is highly versatile, as it can used with solid or liquid food products such as hummus, salsa, guacamole, and different varieties of meats, vegetables, and juices.
- The HPP process is essential for removing excess air from the final packaging, resulting in product shelf lives that are up to four times longer than non-HPP packaged products. This enhanced shelf lives allows companies to distribute products over greater distances while offering additional customer services.
- No preservatives are used in HPP packaging, thus ensuring food products maintain their farm-fresh taste and appeal—especially when heat sensitive products are those being transported.
Designing HPP Packaging: Points to Consider
- Product consistency and density is critical, as these factors determine gauge and head space level. Always consider this information prior to manufacturing your packaging.
- A minimal head space level is required to enhance your overall cup strength.
- HPP packaging must maintain a .250” seal width flange at all times.
- Packaging material needs to be evenly distributed; this is due to the fact that the HPP process consistently finds the weakest link within the cup.
- Cup rigidity should be no less than 85 percent. Ideally, your cup rigidity should be closer to 95 percent, which leaves 5 percent for head space.
- Domed bottoms are preferred in HPP packaging because it creates a vacuum; conversely, round cups are not preferred, as they can become dented and obscure product labels. After being dented, it can take up to 24 hours before the cup returns to its normal shape.
- Choosing the right material is also significant; appropriately gauged material prevents damage to the packaging and more importantly, the product itself. The two recommended materials for HPP are PET and PROP, but silicone can also be incorporated due to its light, consistent application.
Sealing Process & Equipment
The HPP process relies on a fair amount of equipment to attain optimal sealing. Commercial scale equipment is readily available in different regions in the world, and a 215-liter batch system can produce about 10 million pounds of food per year. This equipment often consists of features that include pulling vacuum on the film, vibration chambers to help the product settle, and rubber gaskets to ensure a consistent, solid seal.
Superior sealing is a hallmark of HPP packaging, which is why seal max is the recommended lid material for these innovative products.
Contact Plastic Ingenuity for you HPP Needs
Most importantly, safeguarding your product requires a company that’s committed to high-quality packaging solutions. Plastic Ingenuity has led the custom thermoformed packaging market for over 40 years, and we are well-equipped to support food industry professionals.
HPP packaging is one of our team’s specialties; we work closely with your company through the design, prototyping, mold and tool building, and quality control stages to help bring your product to market.
Please request a quote today to learn how to get started with your next HPP packaging project—Plastic Ingenuity’s customer service representatives and engineers are available 24 hours a day, so be sure to contact us anytime.