HP Hood is one of the largest processors of extended-shelf-life (ESL) beverages in North America. While the company produces a range of refrigerated products in its array of dairy beverages, non-dairy drinks, desserts, and other items, the firm has seen significant growth in its aseptic offerings.
Pete Spanedda, vice president of sales for HP Hood, spoke with FoodProductionDaily at the recent IFT 2014 conference and exposition about the company’s aseptic track record, and where the market might be headed in the future. Hood has been involved with aseptic packaging for approximately 20 years; however, according to Spanedda, the increase in aseptic activity has been recent.
“We started with small aseptic creamers, a relatively small business,” he said. “In the last eight years, we really started going with what we consider significant business in aseptic plastic packaging.”
Hood has two aseptic processing and packaging facilities—one in the eastern US, another on the west coast. Spanedda said the manufacturer produces its own-brand items, private-label products, and lines for several large brand owners that cannot be named due to confidentiality agreements.
Shelf life appeal
Key to expansion of aseptic growth, Spanedda theorized, is elimination of the need for refrigeration. This is due to the reduced transportation cost, and extended shelf life.
“Certainly you can inventory product longer, and you have broader reach both in the US and internationally,” he said. “Even inside the US, the cost to move that product is less.”
Spanedda said UHT products have been slower to take off in the US than other places, such as Canada and Europe, so the country could provide growth opportunities if and when it takes off. However, he added, the market’s direction depends on two groups: shoppers, and product creators.
“There are lots of people with ideas that 10 years ago we wouldn’t have even thought of,” he said. “It’s going to depend on the consumer primarily, and the folks who develop products, to see what we can do—we can package just about anything aseptically.”
Spanedda spoke to FPD at IFT 2014, the annual conference and exposition focused on food processing, ingredients, safety, and packaging.