HPP gives consumers of all ages a plethora of healthy plant-based foods, going from consumer favorite guacamole and avocados, novel dips based out on cauliflower, chickpea or nuts, or healthy fruit & vegetable puree snacks. A wide range of healthy options for toddlers and children are also contemplated, where federal government agencies in the USA have approved HPP baby foods to fight malnutrition within low-income families.
The idea of plant-based foods (PBF) has always been around since the early stages of the food industry, but balancing between stability and the sensory experience proved challenging for the development of these type of products. A better understanding on fruit and vegetable systems has notably improved the quality and taste of PBF. Nowadays, consumers have everything from spreads to remarkable meat analogues.
There are multiple reasons for the consume of PBF, starting with new generations more open to adventure in new culinary experiences, or vegan people concerned about animal welfare. Plant-based foods also suits as a major component of a well-balanced diet incorporating meats, fish and dairy. Therefore, it becomes clear that this an emerging sector, in fact, only in the United States plant-based foods grew 29% in the last two years. Not to mention, that the consumer of Plant-based foods spends 61% more when it comes to the hour of buying these products.
Thankfully, a plethora of options are available for consumers, where high pressure processing (HPP) has established as a major player to promote the consumption of PBF.
Dips & Spreads: the top category of plant-based foods
Plant-based dips, are invading the life and costumes of everyone, they are becoming a healthy solution to bring to friends and family reunions plus they are free of guilt. Among many dips and spreads, the fresh avocado and guacamole products paved the way for the HPP industry growth in the United States, and still remains a consumer favorite.
Recently, consumers demand for plant-based foods led to hummus becoming one of the most popular HPP item. Hummus is typically made of cooked chickpea puree, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic, although cultural exchange and creativity have diversified recipes to incorporate new flavors. Ithaca hummus is a great example on taste exploration, since the company is highly regarded for its classic, red pepper, garlic, beet, dill, and chipotle flavors (Figure 1). As a chef, Ithaca founder always emphasized on the importance of keeping quality while scaling up the process, finding the ideal partner in HPP co-packer LiDestri Foods. The brand’s success is quickly catching the attention of consumers, and was featured in local news coverage last summer taking the audience step-by-step in the hummus production line that ends with HPP.
Prommus is another hummus brand that continues expanding rapidly in the United States. Prommus founders always envisioned hummus as a mean to combat children malnutrition in Syrian refugees. Thus, the creators opted to increase protein content, claiming that their products contain twice as much protein when compared to other brands. Along these two brands, there are many others like SoNatural, Roots Hummus, L’ Atelier V and so on (Figure 2).
In terms of food safety, HPP helps to control foodborne pathogens. Sokołowska et al. (2019) reported more than 5-log10 reductions for Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella spp. inoculated in hummus samples (pH 4.85, aw 0.980) processed at 500 MPa (73,500 psi) with 10 min holding time. Furthermore, the >5-log10 reductions remained for all pathogens at least for 60 days.
Other plant-based dips
As the HPP market continues to see an increasing number of hummus brands, Good Foods is revolutionized the Plant-based foods category by their continuous innovation, providing constantly new sensorial experiences (Figure 3).
Among grains and legumes, pea remains as an important protein sources and one of the most sought ingredients for the development of plant-based foods. A recent study, conducted by Klug and colleagues, displayed the potential of HPP and pea as a base for dips and spreads. A pre-cooking step yielded less than 3 log10 CFU/g of total plant count in a formulation consisting of pea puree, olive oil (5.6%), lemon juice (3%), salt (0.3%), dried onion (0.1%), and pepper (0.008%). Processing at 550 MPa with 5-10 min holding time served as a shelf life extension step, since total plate counts remained without change (~2.5 log10 CFU/g) through storage at 5 °C. Regarding the overall quality score, a sensory panel did not observe differences between untreated (8.73 ± 0.21) and HPP (8.57-8.83) samples at day 0. During storage, HPP pea purees retained a better overall quality (6.92-7.00 score) than the cooked spread after 36 days.
Plant-based Baby Food
Healthy meals and deserts made out of fruit and veggies purees for toddlers and children are conveniently available in refrigerated aisles of supermarkets. HPP baby foods are not only delicious and closest to homemade meals, but also enhance infant nutrition. In May 2019, the Women, Infants and Children (WICTM), a US federal fund helping low-income families fight child malnutrition, approved HPP brand Once Upon A Farm as the first HPP product in the program. As a first step, the products became available in Connecticut, Florida, Maine, West Virginia and Wyoming, although the company is pushing hard to get approval in the remaining states.
Baby food is the first thing that comes to mind when hearing about HPP fruit & veggies purees, but these products are a great as a healthy snack option for grown-ups as well. French company La Frutiere conveniently encompasses their signature fruit purees in sleek spout pouches and tubs to enjoy desert on the run or peacefully laying at home, while also offering big formats for the food service industry.
Aronia berries, also known as chokeberries, have become a popular choice for health-concerned consumers as they are good source of polyphenols and other antioxidant compounds. The research staff of the Food Innovation Center at the University of Nebraska stated aronia berry purees retained between 94-100% of total phenolic after HPP (600 MPa, 5 min holding time) as observed in Fig. 4a (Yuan et al. 2018). Just like in other food products, HPP served for shelf life extension by notably reducing the aerobic plate count along with non-detectable levels for yeasts and molds over two months of storage (Fig. 4b). Conversely, spoilage microorganism reached 5.2-6.0 log10 CFU/g, the growth limit in which food spoilage starts to become apparent.
If we piqued your interest, Hiperbaric invites you to join us in our next webinar “Exploring Plant-based Food Innovation using HPP Technology”, on December 2. Register here!
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