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HPP Expert Q&A – Greg Zaja, VP at American Pasteurization Company

Q: How many years have you been working with HPP technology?
A: I began working with HPP around 1998, about the time the USDA introduced guidelines to control Listeria monocytogenes in RTE meat and poultry products. We used HPP as a lethality treatment to inactivate pathogenic microorganisms in a product to make the product safe for human consumption. To date, I have worked for over 20 years with HPP technology.

Q: Why did American Pasteurization Company decide to buy a JBTAvure HPP machine?
A: Opening in 2004, APC was the first company to offer HPP on a commercial tolling basis to the food and beverage industry. At that time, we felt our partnership and machine capacity fit our business model. We currently have 7 JBTAvure vessels in operation at multiple locations.

Q: What are the advantages of using a toller like American Pasteurization Company?
A: Tolling or contract manufacturing allows any food or beverage manufacturer to have access to HPP equipment without the need for directly investing capital in the purchase of the equipment or infrastructure. Instead, they simply pay for the use of the equipment on a pay-as-you-go basis. Our core competency is guiding companies through the HPP process from beginning to end. From the product idea phase, through formulation, manufacturing and packaging development and testing, to commercialization. We also have a huge network of suppliers that help facilitate the start-up process so our clients can get to market faster. Finally, we are passionate about what we do, and we treat every product like it’s our own.

Q: What are popular foods and beverages that American Pasteurization Company HPP’s?
A: We have a variety of different food items that we process, but the most popular would be RTE meats, soups, and wet salads. On the West Coast, we find there is a greater demand for fresh, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices. Another popular category is pet food—HPP effectively kills the main bacteria commonly associated with raw pet foods recalls.

Q: What do you, as an HPP toller, think are the top three drivers sparking HPP’s fast growth?
A: Consumers want an all-natural, clean-label product. HPP allows you to formulate with fewer ingredients and with fewer or no chemicals. Next would be food safety and shelf-life; manufacturers can benefit from longer production runs, which lead to improved scheduling within the cold chain. Also, retailers experience reduced markdowns due to out-of-code-date product. Finally, brand equity protection. Manufacturers can reduce the cost of litigation/legal support, avoiding the cost of a recall. Even though all these benefits play a huge role in the growth of HPP, each item must be evaluated on a product-by-product basis, depending on the intended goals. In other words, there is no cookie-cutter approach to HPP—each product must be tested, evaluated and trialed for dependable results.

Q: What HPP product do you have in your fridge?
A: One item you’re sure to find in my fridge is Good Foods guacamole. In the summer I enjoy stocking my fridge with beverages made by Juiced! and WTRMLN WTR.

Greg Zaja’s Bio
Greg Zaja has more than 25 years of experience in the food industry and has been vice president at American Pasteurization Company (APC) since the company’s founding in 2004.
Prior to APC, Zaja was a food scientist with Cargill Meat Solutions. While there, he developed new products and evaluated alternate processing and packaging methodologies for some of the country’s biggest brands and grocery store chains—McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart and Publix. With APC, Zaja has worked with a broad range of businesses—from start-ups that are launching a first-to-market product, to Fortune 100 companies introducing a line extension, to established businesses that are reformulating an existing product. Each client has its own specialized requirements to address.