Cutting edge technology keeps fruit fresh for up to 40 days

As the consumer demands a longer shelf life for foods, eco-conscious start-up Naturae says they have a safe and chemical-free solution.


As the world becomes more health-conscious, the overuse of artificial preservatives is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Start-up company Naturae has devised a process called high hydrostatic pressure (HPP) technology, which keeps cut fruit fresh for up to 40 days - without the need for potentially harmful artificial chemicals.

Many foods and food juices are still processed using heat treatments known as pasteurisation. The problem with this process is, it reduces nutrient content and can affect the taste, colour and aroma of the product. In the case of fruit juice, around 26% of antioxidant properties are lost when the product is pasteurised, along with 70% of the original colour and up to 95% of vitamin C content can be lost. This means that many big food manufacturers resort to using artificial colouring, preservatives and antioxidants.

Increasing research suggests that artificial additives, also known as ‘E-numbers’, can generate health issues, but many food manufacturers continue to use these types of chemical substances as a means of preserving products. 

The mission of start-up Naturae is to eradicate the need for heat treatment processing, artificial additives and to support the reduce food waste, while still providing the consumer with the shelf-life that they demand. 

Naturae say their high hydrostatic pressure (HPP) technology offers the best alternative to pasteurisation and additives. 

The process of HPP involves foods being subjected to high pressure for short periods of time, to eliminate pathogens. The high pressures reduce microbiological flora (bacteria) with the same effectiveness of thermal treatments. As HPP is a cold process, it does not affect the nutritional content of the food and no chemical preservatives are necessary.

Naturae’s HPP technology process has most recently been recognised at the International Quality Innovation Awards (QUIA) held in Tel Aviv. The team of engineers were awarded the title of ‘best responsible innovation in the world’ at the awards evening last week. 

Naturae CEO Juan Manuel Sanz says: "According to the Eurobarometer 354 survey, 66% of Europeans distrust chemical preservatives in food, and rightly so. There are numerous scientific studies that link the presence of additives with health problems such as child hyperactivity, certain allergic reactions or digestive problems.”

In many pre-packaged foods, nitrates, nitrites, parabens, hypochlorite and other chemicals have replaced more natural techniques such as salt or smoking to preserve food. Though currently used to produce fresh-cut fruit, smoothies and juices - the HPP process is understood to be versatile technology that could be applied to almost any type of food.

"Chemical preservatives, in certain quantities, are legally permitted; but it is their accumulation over years that causes issues," continued Sanz.

Another challenge for Naturae is food waste. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations warns that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is being thrown away worldwide every year including over a third of all fruit and vegetables. 

"The quantity of food wasted could feed Africa, Europe and the Americas for a year," says Sanz.

Founded in 2013 by a team of engineers from the University of Valladolid, Naturae bases its principles on the logic of offering consumers a longer, safer shelf-life for foods will reduce food waste. As HPP technology naturally eliminates microbiology from food along with providing a lengthy shelf-life - this means products are both long-lasting and remain natural. 

In a further attempt to reduce levels of food waste the Naturae team are currently working with farmers suppliers to give ‘rejected’ or ‘misshapen’ fruit and vegetables another chance to enter the food chain, which would normally be discarded in the bin. 

Katie Burt

Katie Burt

When not found with a laptop at my fingertips, it's likely I'll be running, swimming, attempting to cycle or seeking out decent coffee.

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