Non-thermal pasteurization technology increases shelf-life while creating foods and beverages with nearly the same taste, feel, appearance and nutritional profile of unpasteurized, fresh foods and beverages. However, the technology often costs more to purchase and operate than thermal pasteurization technologies. In addition, the shelf-life of non-thermally pasteurized beverages is less than similar heat-pasteurized drinks.
Nevertheless, consumer demand for non-thermally pasteurized drinks is increasing. New technologies are needed to increase the shelf-life of non-thermally pasteurized foods and beverages while decreasing the cost of acquisition and operation.
Readers Note: The generic term “food” includes beverages, pastes, gels dips, and other edibles and potables. This RFI is seeking non-thermal technologies for liquid and beverage application, however for completeness in understanding non-thermal pasteurization methods the document refers generally to “food”, with specific mention to beverages when necessary. Micro-organisms decrease the shelf-life of food and nothing kills microorganisms as effectively as heat.
In addition, heated pasteurization technologies can cost significantly less, about 85% less, than the non-heat technologies. For example, a high-pressure processing (HPP) device can cost roughly USD$7MM while a competing commercial grade, heated processing device only costs about USD1$MM. Unfortunately, heating can also damage the appearance, taste, feel and nutritional aspects of food, sometimes to the extent that it decreases consumer demand.
Non-thermal (less than 24oC) processing technology can leave food near its natural state while reducing the amount of micro-organisms, yet not to the reduction level that thermal processing technology can achieve. In addition, it requires much greater costs – both with regards to equipment purchase and operating costs.
Operating costs are high due to system complexity and process flow. Some of these technologies are much more complex than simply heating up water and running packaged goods through it.
For example, HPP requires a robust pressure chamber that can withstand hundreds of megapascals (MPa) of pressure. Furthermore, some technologies require batch processing while thermal technologies can use continuous processing to increase throughput thereby making the process more efficient. (read more)
This opportunity comes from the efforts of Xinova’s R&D Consulting and Innovation team.
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