Technology

The company that changes the way of making and preserving food and leads a world market from Burgos

Today, very few Spanish consumers probably know that a high pressure treatment is an excellent way of, among other things, preserve food; and even fewer will know that the biggest company in the world in this technology it is Spanish, specifically from Burgos.

Is about hyperbarica completely Spanish capital company dedicated to manufacturing the necessary machines to subject any product to a pressure of up to 6,000 barwhich to give you an idea is about six times the greatest natural pressure that can be found on the planet, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Obviously, this requires equipment that combines high technology and very unusual capabilities, for example, in terms of resistance. In a visit with a group of journalists to his facilities in Burgos, the CEO of the company, Andrew Hernandoexplained it with a very graphic example: “Our machines are like formulas one“, he said, speaking to us about the maintenance needs they have, “making a car to go to 120 is easy, but to go to 300 it is much more difficult. Well, to work at 6,000 bars, the same”.

World leader

In its two decades of history the company has already sold more than 350 sets of high pressure in 48 countries, which makes it the largest in the sector not only in Europe but worldwide, with a market share of 60%.

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A world map with little flags in the offices marks the location of all those machines that, in addition to their high sales value –from hundreds of thousands of euros to several millions, depending on their size and capabilities– require a high-quality maintenance service that includes, for example, permanent remote monitoring of the equipment and, when necessary, send spare parts by plane.

Maintaining a leadership position like this is not easy and to do so the company dedicates a significant amount of resources to research and development: 10% of the annual result. An investment that is also serving to develop new lines of business: a dedicated to the compression of hydrogen and another that combines pressure with high temperature that is designed to improve the mechanical properties of metal parts used in sectors such as aeronautics or the automobile.

A revolution in food?

Getting to know the Hiperbaric facilities in a trip organized for the media in Madrid was very interesting and it was even more interesting to learn in some detail how the application of high pressure radically changes food preservation.

As explained to us by the company’s Business Development Director, Carole Tonellosubjecting food to a pressure as high as that provided by Hiperbaric machines eliminates practically all agents that can harm food preservation and, above all, be dangerous for the consumer: plants, vertebrates and invertebrates, parasites, molds and yeasts and viruses and bacteria –such as the well-known and dangerous listeria– disappear with a process that, moreover, does not involve heat does not alter the chemical characteristics of the product, that is, it does not change its flavor.

That is its great advantage over pasteurization, the conservation process that is currently used in many foods: the food does not see its properties altered –neither the taste nor the color– provided, yes, that they are products that are high pressures do not affect it as it would, for example, in the case of bread.

And with respect to a product that has not been pasteurized either, the difference lies in the ability to maintain it in an optimal state for consumption. In some cases it is simply brutal: a juice subjected to high pressure multiply by 30 the time it will remain in good condition in our fridge, from just a few days to a couple of months.

In prepared food, one of the large sectors that can take advantage of high pressure, the multiplication factor is less, but it is still very important: it will last four times longer in perfect condition, several weekswhich allows for much more efficient logistics management and, in short, brings processed products to supermarket shelves without preservatives of any kind.

Also in sausages the multiplication factor is four and with the extra peace of mind of a process that ends without any doubt with the aforementioned listeria. Finally, in products made from vegetables, such as guacamole, “the star of the process” worldwide according to Andrés Hernando, which is kept in perfect condition up to 10 times more from when it is kept fresh without having been subjected to high pressure.

An indistinguishable flavor

To show us that these are not empty slogans, the company organizes a demonstration at its facilities: in addition to a tasting of some of the products made by various companies that use high pressure –sauces and various prepared dishes– they teach us live what the process and how the food comes out after it.

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Some bottles of juice of various flavors and a bag of ham go through the noisy machine for a few minutes and return to the outside with no other apparent change than being wet, since the element with which the pressure is exerted is water. On the table the same juices and the same pork without going through the machine to serve as a control element of the test. The result is that indeed it is impossible to distinguish between the taste or appearance of one and the other.

A future of milk and beer

One of the company’s big projects is to expand a new type of machine they call In-Bulk, which allows bulk liquids to be treated. For now, a French company has already installed the first of this equipment to treat juices, but the project is to reach other products such as milk or beer.

Thus, perhaps in a few years a good part of the world will drink milk and beer that will no longer need to be subjected to a heat treatment and whose flavor, therefore, we will be able to enjoy in all its fullness. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is already watering.

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