Fressure Foods wants 'Australasian leadership' in procesed avocados

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Fressure Foods wants 'Australasian leadership' in procesed avocados

While high pressure technology has been used for processing in the global avocado industry since the 1990s, New Zealand's industry has only taken on the techniques in the last couple of years. Fressure Foods was launched in January 2011 to make the most of the country's excess crop and has made great strides since then. At we speak with the company's plant manager Robert Peregrina, who was recruited from Mexico especially for the role.

Peregrina says high pressure technology for the food industry was first pioneered in Japan, which along with Australia happens to be one of Fressure Foods' top markets for its packs of fresh avocado spread and guacamole.

The East Asian country is purchasing around 20 metric tons (MT) a year of the product from Fressure, Australia buys between 6-8MT and small shipments are also sent to Hong Kong, South Korea, Tahiti and other Pacific Islands.

The amounts may not be too large but they make a great difference for the 260 growers with shares in the business, who can make money out of nutritious and fresh avocados with blemishes that ordinarily may be discarded.

"New Zealand has a really small local market and the problem is that the market doesn’t absorb the rejected fruit and it ends up being thrown away," says Peregrina.

"So it was decided to set up a business to make the most of this fruit and add value with a premium product.

"We would like to be the Australasian leader in avocado processing. It’s been used in Mexico for some time, but in this part of the world it’s not as developed."

High pressure process

The manager says before the high pressure process begins the avocado flesh is first put into 100g easy peel plastic trays and mixed according to the product. The company currently has three products - the avocado spread with just the pulp and salt, mild guacamole with fresh onion, coriander, garlic and salt, as well as spicy guacamole which includes jalapeño peppers.

He highlights the products are all natural with no additives or preservatives.

Once the products are sealed they are placed into a 55 liter (14.5 gallon) cylinder that is then pumped full of water.

"We put pill plugs in so that there’s no way for the water to escape and put the pressure up to 871,000 psi (pounds per square inch) and that destroys all the bacteria.

"People sometimes ask, 'why doesn't it get crushed?' The answer is that because it's in water the same pressure is coming from all sides so it stays even.

He adds the micronutrients and benefits of avocados are not affected by the pressure so when the packs are open it tastes as good as fresh avocado.

"If there are effects they are negligible and even experts can't tell the difference. We did blind tests for that."

Peregrina says foodservice trends will hopefully help drive growth in sales, while avocado consumption in Japan is up as the 'flavor of the month'.

The company plans to release more product lines, including a guacahummus with avocados and chickpeas, another with avocado and black Spanish olives, and a third with avocados mixed with red bell peppers.

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