Campden BRI quizzed 52 mostly European food experts and found that HPP was the technology that came up the most.
According to the paper, published in the journal Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, HPP was followed by cold plasma, PEF (pulsed electric fields), microwave pasteurisation/sterilisation and UV processing. The respondents were not given a list of options and the answers were therefore completely unprompted. Other technologies mentioned included: ohmic heating, ozone, PATS, pulsed light, irradiation, power ultrasound and dense phase CO2.
Lead author of the study and food scientist for emerging technologies at Campden BRI, Colette Jermann, said the results revealed a few surprises. “Power ultrasound scored lower than expected in terms of technological awareness. It was also surprising that over 50% of respondents thought that lack of information and training were limitations for the adoption of emerging technologies.”
When asked about technology’s importance now and in the next five years, HPP came top again, with microwaving running in second.
HPP is a cold pasteurisation technique which sees food subjected to high pressures equivalent to 60 km under the ocean. Proponents say it avoids use of additives and heat treatment.
Obstacles to new technology
While a lack of information and training were a limitation to uptake, the main obstacle to use of newer technology was perceived cost, said the researchers.
However, Jermann said it was essential to look at the whole picture in terms of capital and running costs when comparing two different technologies.
“For instance, the price of an HPP system may be higher than a pasteuriser, but the cost of the additional equipment and processes required when using a pasteuriser, such as decontamination of the air and containers prior to filling, maintenance of the filters as well as the running costs, must also be taken into consideration,” she said.
“Furthermore some non-thermal preservation technologies such as PEF and HPP can have less impact on ‘fresh’ sensory characteristics in the product,” she added – noting that juices processed with such technologies are often sold at a premium price.
“Cost will always be an important consideration – but it needs to be considered as part of the whole picture.”
The study concluded by asking whether current regulations were sufficient to account for “potential development in the future”.
The survey aimed to gain a better understanding of modern trends in food processing, the level of commercialisation and the role different technologies play in different regions.
A larger survey was carried out in the US, where HPP, microwave and UV were named the main technologies used in food processing now and which were anticipated to be of equal importance in the next five years.
Source: Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.ifset.2015.06.007
“Mapping trends in novel and emerging food processing technologies around the world”
Authors: Jermann, C., et al.