HPP: The Future of Food Preservation is Now



High Pressure Processing, or HPP, has gained a great deal of popularity lately driven by foodies demanding higher quality products, increased shelf life and “clean” processing (products made without, or with very few, non-natural ingredients or additives). This preservation process has been known to triple the shelf life of many food products without the use of chemicals, and without reducing the taste or flavor profile of the product itself.

A key ingredient for food manufacturers.
According to the FDA, HPP takes cold food products and subjects them to pressures higher than those found in the deepest oceans—typically, pressures between 100 and 800 MPa (megapascal) are used to destroy the bacteria that can spoil food. This is the equivalent of 20 miles below the ocean! Bacteria, yeast and mold are not able to survive these immense pressures, leaving only high quality, healthy food.

Another advantage of HPP is that it doesn’t use heat in any way, so taste is not compromised. Not only does this increase the flavor and attractiveness of the product, it also makes supply chain issues much more manageable because small processors who rely on quick turnarounds and large channels of distribution will benefit.

Processing the numbers. 
Currently, there are more than 200 HPP units across the United States. While Michigan is quickly becoming a major food processing player, there are zero HPP units available for use by local processors. The only known unit in the state is used by Garden Fresh, now owned by Campbell Soup Co. The typical unit will cost about $3 million—a significant barrier to entry for most small to mid-sized food processors. Like most industries, about 60% of the units in operation will co-pack for others.

In a toll manufacturing arrangement, a company provides its raw materials or semi-finished goods to a third-party service provider. The service provider, who often has specialized equipment or infrastructure, provides a subset of manufacturing processes on behalf of the company using those materials or goods for a fee. Unfortunately, the nearest “tolling” center to Michigan is located in Pennsylvania where there are three units. Otherwise, you’ll have to travel to Wisconsin to have your products processed.

HPP on the menu.
What are some of the most favorable products for HPP? Soups, salsas, hummus, juices and cold salads such as chicken and tuna salad are all excellent choices. While much of the expense is based around the manual loading and unloading of the HPP machines, this cost likely will come down as process improvements are made.

While food safety scares and recalls should be on the decline, newer more accurate tests are finding more contaminated and adulterated products. As a result, HPP will continue to gain attention by both food processors and the public seeking a safer food supply.

Food for thought.
One of the best things that should happen to the food processing industry in Michigan would be the opening of a HPP tolling center where local food businesses can take advantage of this revolutionary shelf life-extending technology. As the food processing industry in Michigan continues to grow, the need for this type of equipment becomes even more evident.

Hungry for smarter manufacturing?
If you’re a small to medium-sized food processor and want to maximize efficiency and minimize waste throughout your operations, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) is your homegrown resource. To learn more about our Food Processing services, visit www.the-center.org, or contact me directly at jspillson@the-center.org.

In other food news… The Center is pleased to participate at the following food events in March:

Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala
March 2, 2017
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Greektown Casino in Downtown Detroit
Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala

2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit
March 9, 2017
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi
2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit


John Spillson, Food Business Development Manager
John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, visit www.the-center.org.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: Food Processing