The existing shelf life was nearly tripled, giving enough time for shipping (normally six weeks) to faraway markets and for retailers to stock and sell the leg fillets.
Sadia Seemeen, who was process improvement technologist at Tegel during the project, says: ``We undertook trials to custom-make some of the smoked product and eliminate preservatives and chemical curing agents, while using some natural ingredients sourced from the United States.’’
The ready-to-eat HPP product is being shipped in a vacuum package, helping to extend the shelf life.
Sadia Seemeen says chicken legs and thighs sell at low prices in New Zealand but are regarded more highly in the Asian markets. ``We have been able to add value to the back end of the bird, and the HPP trials and validation have created the basis for other new products.’’
Up till now the main export market for cooked and frozen chicken has been Australia.
Sadia Seemeen says The FoodBowl is important for companies wanting to explore new markets and develop new products.
``To invest in a $500,000 HPP machine for testing is just not feasible,’’ she says ``The FoodBowl has the technology to explore different ways of doing things – that’s a great asset in a country like New Zealand that relies on export sales to add to the economy.’’