So impressed by the role high pressure processing (HPP) is playing in the growth of its Hope Hummus product line, Louisville, Colo.-based Hope Foods has established a new business unit, Hope Fresh, to bring the shelf-life extension and food safety technology to the broader food processing community.
In March, Hope Fresh became the exclusive Avure Technologies Inc. Certified Tolling Partner in the state of Colorado. Its first Avure HPP system, the QFP-100L 600 model, was installed in mid-May. Less than two months later, the company signed an order for a second, larger press, the high-capacity Avure 350L system.
“We are very pleased to have the need for a second machine,” comments Hope Foods President Robbie Rech. “The demand here in Colorado seems to be very strong, and we’re in a good position to meet that need. Also, machine #2 will provide the assurance of redundancy that makes food processors more comfortable.”
Expanding into the tolling business is a landmark move for a company that started off selling fresh, organic hummus at a local farmers’ market. Hope Hummus grew rapidly its first year, but as distribution widened and products had to travel farther to new markets, the need for longer shelf-life became clear. Among all the options Hope explored, HPP—which uses ultra-high water pressure instead of heat to disable pathogens and spoilage bacteria--stood out as the only solution that met shelf-life goals while maintaining the integrity of product taste, texture, and nutrition.
“HPP practically tripled the shelf-life of our Hope Hummus product line,” Morgan McArthur, Hope’s head of HPP Business Development, points out. “In addition, it makes our product safer and enhances our capabilities. With our launch into the East Coast this summer, it is the key to our growth into a national brand.”
As a contract services provider, Hope Fresh now offers the same benefits to other food processors, especially those transforming the Denver metropolitan area into a hub of natural and organic food production. “Shelf-life is always an issue in the organic arena,” McArthur explains, noting that HPP has opened many new opportunities for products that organic processors would not otherwise be able to produce.
Hope Hummus’s experience with HPP is a strong selling point. “When you talk to processors about the impact on their supply chain—higher batch production, fewer production days, longer shelf-life, wider distribution--HPP becomes very attractive, especially to a business that has been living within the limits of its manufacturing capabilities. We are looking forward to adding value to the local industry by helping them break those barriers and expand beyond the region,” McArthur says.
She reports that demand has been coming primarily from three major food categories: juices, dips and spreads, and raw and RTE meats. One of the first products Hope HPP validated was a juice, whose shelf–life more than doubled, from under 20 days with conventional processing to 49 days with HPP.
Hope Foods opened a 58,000-square-foot facility in the Colorado Tech Center to house its HPP operations and took delivery of its first Avure system on May 7, just six weeks after ordering. Installation was complete 10 days ahead of schedule. “Avure was extremely nimble responding to the tight turnaround time we required,” McArthur notes.
It was processor responsiveness, along with a probing look at the direction of the food industry, which convinced Rech of the strong demand for HPP throughout the Rocky Mountain region. “We really believe in this technology, and we are well positioned to leverage our infrastructure,” he enthuses. “We sized the building and operations for rapid growth, so going to a second system relatively quickly has always been part of the plan. It happened a little quicker than expected, but that’s great. Because there was so much interest, we knew right away that we needed more capacity.”
The Avure 350L will arrive in late August and is slated to be up and running October 1st.
“As the value proposition of HPP continues to expand, it is very gratifying to have a technology that both meets consumer demand for safer, more healthful eating while creating strong new business opportunities through the tolling model,” says Matt Rutherford, Avure Senior Vice President of Business Development and Global Sales.
Hope Foods is based in Louisville, Colorado, near Boulder, where its toll processing business serves food and juice suppliers throughout the Rocky Mountain States. Committed to unique, healthful, and creatively flavored products, Hope Foods is also the parent company of Hope Hummus, Hope Spreads, and Hope Dips. Hope Foods produces organic, gluten-free, and vegan products using only the purest ingredients sourced from organic food suppliers who are dedicated to freshness and maintaining the highest standards of quality. For more information, visit www.hopefresh.com.