As you travel the aisles of your retailer's stores and have discussions with buyers, it's likely the growing shelf displays of cold press juices have caught your attention. As the trend of "cold pressing" continues to grow, I found time to talk with Greg Fry, the Director of Product Development on brands including Naked, KeVita, and Izze with a master's degree in food science from the University of California-Davis, about cold press and high-pressure processing.
In cold press processing, vegetables and fruits are hydraulically pressed at a cold temperature, typically around 40 degrees. Greg describes the bag press itself akin to a giant file folder process; the various sections of the folder are filled with finely ground vegetables and fruits and the pistons on either side of the file folders compress like an accordion squeezing the juice out at the bottom of each file section. The process is different than home juicing where the produce is ground and pressed against a screen to capture the juice.
Once the juice is bottled, capped and sealed, it goes through high pressure processing (HPP). "In HPP, high and equal pressure is applied on the product from all directions," explains Greg. "This equal pressure transmits through the bottle into microorganism cells, which are damaged/ destroyed by the pressure." HPP technology is not new, and has been used to ensure food safety in categories including lunch meat, guacamole and fresh salsas.
According to Greg, the key benefit of this dual process is that it is beneficial for the development of more "vegetable forward" juices which tend to have lower calories and sugar than traditional fruit juices. Consumers also find cold press juices to taste fresher. HPP processing better maintains the natural color and flavor notes of fruits and vegetables, making these juices more attractive to shoppers.
An important consideration in the cold press process is food safety. Greg indicates that in their brands "selection of the produce used and washing prior to processing are essential to food safety." He also indicates that they formulate to a lower pH, as a more acidic environment helps manage food safety. While consumers are attracted to the idea that these juices are not exposed to the traditional high heat of pasteurization, HPP is not as effective in killing microorganisms as heat. For this reason, cold press juices must be refrigerated and have a shorter shelf life than other juices (45-65 days on average).
As retail shoppers continue to explore new flavors and foods, it's likely they'll have questions about cold press juices as will your buyer and merchant colleagues. Greg Fry, with six years of experience with this technology, has provided valuable answers to many of these questions.