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Expanding Your Export Horizons With the Use of High Pressure Processing (HPP)

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Expanding Your Export Horizons With the Use of High Pressure Processing (HPP)

Expanding Your Export Horizons With the Use of High Pressure Processing (HPP)
January 24
09:00 2017

Brexit has definitely focused the minds of food processors and manufacturers on the risks that will have to be faced in the coming years. Since the United Kingdom voted on the 23rd of June 2016 to exit the European Union, food and beverage exports to the UK have been and still are extremely volatile. In addition, given that the process for the UK to leave the European Union has not even begun yet, it is safe to say that the road ahead is one of uncertainty. If everything goes extremely well from the Irish point of view and Ireland and the UK maintain all the current arrangements that we currently share after their exit from the European Union, we still have to deal with the elephant in the room which is the exchange rate.

According to Bord Bia, approximately €570m was wiped off the value of Irish food and drink exports last year due to the fall in value of Sterling following the UK’s Brexit vote.  Food and Drinks Industry Ireland point out that the UK is our largest trading partner for food and drink and that 41% of our food and drink exports go to the UK which has a value of €4.4bn. This reinforces the severity of the €570m wiped off the value of those exports which was close to 13%.

Increasing efficiency and taking smaller margins is not going to be enough to fix this very real problem. Perhaps in the longer term increasing our prices may also help and the exchange rates will change back in our favour. However, there must also be a reasonable chance that the value of Sterling will actually fall further, which will result in more Irish food and beverage producers, who export to the UK being put under increasing financial pressure and possibly forced out of business through no fault of their own! Or perhaps it will be their own fault because they did not plan ahead and reduce their exposure to the volatile UK market by expanding their horizons and exporting to mainland Europe.

The benefits for Irish producers exporting into Europe are immense and include the following:

  • Over 400 million inhabitants not including the UK.
  • Same currency.
  • Free access to the market, no tariffs or indeed the possibility of tariffs.
  • Huge demand for Irish food and beverage products.
  • Stable market place.
  • Possibility to grow a sustainable business.

Food safety and shelf-life are often the issues that producers say prevent them from entering the market on mainland Europe.  This is because fresh food in particular tends to have a short shelf-life so the UK is the preferred destination, however with the development of new technologies such as High Pressure Processing (HPP) this issue can in many cases be easily overcome. By using cold water and extreme pressure, HPP will kill all the harmful bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses in the foods and will also extend the shelf-life of the product. It is a clean, natural, non-additive process. Typical shelf-life extensions that one would expect to achieve are as shown on the following table.

Category Shelf Life Today Expected HPP Shelf Life
Sausage 10-15  Days 25-35     Days
Deli Meats 30-90  Days 80-120   Days
Cured Meats 30-90  Days 70-90     Days
Poultry 8-13    Days 20-30     Days
Ground beef/turkey 3-8      Days 20-30     Days
Seafood/Shellfish 3-8      Days 25-35     Days
Marinated Meats 10-15  Days 25-35     Days
Chilled Ready Meals 7-10    Days 25-35     Days
Chilled Soups 10-20  Days 70-90     Days
Hummus 10-20  Days 70-90     Days
Salsa 10-20  Days 70-90     Days
Dressings 10-20  Days 70-90     Days
Fresh Fruit and Veg Drinks 3-8      Days 28-90     Days
Fresh Cheese 7-10    Days 25-35     Days

HPP technology is available, approved and used throughout Europe, America and Asia. The cost of the technology is high and therefore not an option for the majority of producers to purchase for their own individual use; however the technology is available on a pay as you go basis in Ireland through a company called HPP Tolling Ltd. Their facility is open to all producers, so producers can avail of the technology and their expertise without having to invest any capital in the equipment. Their service allows producers to investigate the process and determine whether the process can add value or reduce the risk to their business by helping producers to open up new markets for their products and at the same time reduce their exposure to the UK market where for the next couple of years at a minimum, the only certainty that the UK market can offer is its uncertainty.

If you would like to further investigate how HPP can help expand your export markets, you can send a mail to hpptolling@gmail.com or contact Liam Murphy directly on (085) 8700228 all enquiries are treated in the strictest of confidence.

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