As consumers put more emphasis on health, demanding more natural, fresh foods, interest is growing in high pressure processing (HPP) and what it can do to extend the shelf lives of natural products. In recent years, innovative bulk HPP systems have helped to overcome the limitation of products relying solely on plastic packaging. At PACK EXPO Las Vegas, JBT Avure introduced its FlexiBulk system, which can HPP both bulk and individually packaged simultaneously, improving the speed and packing efficiency of the process in addition to providing flexibility in packaging options.
JBT Avure has been working not only on ways to automate the process, but also to improve pack efficiency, says Sam Mudgal, global product line manager for JBT Avure. “Pack efficiency is typically 40, 50, 60% max—there’s so much wasted space,” he says. “Now it’s 95%, so we can actually double the throughput.”
At JBT Avure’s booth at PACK EXPO in September, Mike Stokes talked about how Pressed Juicery was scheduled to install its first HPP system from JBT Avure Oct. 1. The cold pressed juice maker had been waiting for HPP to become more package-agnostic, according to Stokes, chief supply chain officer for Pressed Juicery. “Our consumers are all about sustainability,” he says, noting that they wanted to be able to provide cold pressed juices in glass, aluminum, and carton containers, as well as plastic. “Not that plastic is not recyclable, but consumers don’t recycle.”
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Flexibility is also key in how JBT Avure’s new system operates. “The FlexiBulk delivers the maximum in HPP flexibility—the ability to run bulk and in-package products in the same cycle,” says Ryan Pereira, president of JBT Avure.
Pressed Juicery runs a variety of bottle sizes for its juices. Running its 2 oz shots in an HPP carrier maximizes the pack efficiency, since the small bottles can be packed more densely. Pressed Juicery plans to run a bulk bag in one carrier of the machine while running the 2 oz bottles in the second carrier.
“The speed vs. other bulk systems is profoundly different,” Stokes says, noting the benefits of FlexiBulk doing the filling and unfilling outside of the HPP press, thereby improving the speed and efficiency of bulk HPP.
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The FlexiBulk has fill speeds of up to 55 gal/min. It can fill bags, in baskets, while other bags are being pressed and unfilled. These steps can all be done simultaneously, resulting in higher throughputs. With a traditional HPP machine, all these steps need to be done in series, which means that you cannot fill or unfill the bladder while the product is being pressurized.
“HPP has always been niche,” Mudgal says. “With this, we’re really making it mainstream.”