Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) and High-Pressure Processing (HPP) are both non-thermal pasteurization techniques used in juice production, each offering distinct benefits. Here’s a comparison of their advantages.


What is HPP and what is PEF?

HPP stands for “High-Pressure Processing”. The shelf-life of the product in question is being prolonged by putting high pressure on the sealed product. It is a process in which the sensorial and nutritional properties of food are maintained.  

PEF stands for “Pulsed Electric Field”. OpticCept has developed a patented technology based on PEF called CEPT® “Closed Environment Pulsed electric field Treatment and is based on short-term high voltage pulses. Hereby the shelf-life of the product is also prolonged – However not through affecting the sealed product, but through modifying the basic product in an earlier stage. 

The average investment and operation costs differ significantly with HPP being much more costly. 

HPP treatment can prolong the shelf life of juices significantly. However, regardless of what method is used to preserve nutrients in a juice, degradation of vitamin C will happen over time. After 3 weeks the concentration of C vitamins falls to 50% in different juices. Thus, there is no point in having a shelf life longer than 3 weeks if you are looking to offer high-quality juice. The juice producer that offers valuable juice with high quality is the one that is the winner in the long run.

Benefits of PEF in Juice Production

  • Retention of Freshness and Nutrients:

    • PEF helps maintain the natural flavor, color, and nutritional content of juices better than thermal pasteurization.
    • It preserves heat-sensitive vitamins and bioactive compounds due to the minimal temperature increase during processing.
  • Microbial Inactivation:

    • PEF effectively inactivates a broad spectrum of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, molds, and some viruses.
    • This method ensures microbial safety while extending the shelf life of juices.
  • Energy Efficiency:

    • PEF is generally more energy-efficient compared to thermal processing methods because it uses short bursts of high voltage rather than prolonged heating.
  • Improved Juice Yield and Quality:

    • PEF can enhance juice extraction from fruits and vegetables, potentially increasing yield and improving the quality of the extracted juice.
  • Minimal Impact on Texture:

    • The texture of juice remains largely unaffected by PEF, maintaining a natural mouthfeel.
PEF (Pulsed Electric Field) system for liquid foods
An OptiCept PEF system for liquid foods including juice.

Benefits of HPP in Juice Production

  • Retention of Sensory and Nutritional Quality:

    • HPP preserves the natural taste, color, and nutritional content of juices due to the non-thermal nature of the process.
    • Similar to PEF, it helps retain heat-sensitive vitamins and nutrients.
  • High Effectiveness Against Pathogens:

    • HPP is highly effective in inactivating harmful pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, significantly extending the shelf life of juices.
    • This method is especially good for inactivating vegetative cells without affecting the juice’s quality.
  • Uniform Treatment:

    • HPP applies pressure uniformly throughout the product, ensuring consistent microbial inactivation and quality maintenance.
  • Enhanced Shelf Life:

    • Juices processed with HPP can have a much longer shelf life compared to those treated with traditional thermal methods, with minimal changes in quality over time.
  • No Chemical Additives:

    • Like PEF, HPP does not require chemical preservatives, aligning with consumer preferences for natural and clean-label products.

Comparison of PEF and HPP

  • Process Mechanism: PEF uses electrical pulses to disrupt microbial cell membranes, whereas HPP uses high pressure to inactivate microorganisms.
  • Energy Consumption: PEF is generally more energy-efficient due to shorter processing times.
  • Equipment and Costs: HPP equipment can be more expensive and bulkier compared to PEF systems, but HPP has been more widely adopted and validated in the industry.
  • Suitability for Different Products: PEF might be more suitable for certain types of juices or liquid products that benefit from the specific mechanisms of electrical pulse treatment, while HPP is versatile and can be applied to a wider range of food products.

In summary, both PEF and HPP offer significant benefits over traditional thermal pasteurization, primarily in retaining the quality and nutritional value of juices while ensuring safety and extending shelf life. The choice between PEF and HPP may depend on specific production goals, cost considerations, and the particular characteristics of the juice being processed.

PEF may be a better choice over HPP for juice producers who prioritize cost-efficiency, energy savings, flexibility in production scale, minimal impact on juice texture, and the ability to innovate with new product characteristics. Additionally, producers aiming to meet sustainability goals and cater to clean-label trends may find PEF particularly advantageous.



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