Via ABC : A Queensland company has developed world-first food technology it believes could revolutionise the global processed avocado market.
Naturo All Natural Technologies has patented a technique to stop avocados browning, without using chemicals or changing the flavour.
Agricultural engineer Jeff Hastings said his company’s technology offers enormous potential to value-add to avocados, that could now be used by fast food companies and restaurants.
“The concept came out of a group of avocado growers some three years ago who wanted to do more with avocados, create more value from avocados, so I got involved in looking at options,” Mr Hastings said.
“They came and left but I continued on to see if there was some way of stopping the avocadoes going brown and eventually after a bunch of experiments in my kitchen and playing around with different ideas we hit on one idea that showed some promise.
“So then we went further to commercialise it and started manufacturing machines.”
Browning remains the major issue for processed avocado.
“Anything that’s cut, the browning process starts and within a few hours and you’ve got brown avocado which you can’t eat,” Mr Hastings said.
“So if we can extend that browning process, extend that reaction, then you would give consumers the opportunity to eat that sliced or diced or pulped avocado over a longer period.”
The retro looking ‘Avocado Time Machine’ can process up to 500 kilograms of avocado an hour.
The Mount Coolum-based engineer said the secret lay in the technology’s ability to switch off the enzyme responsible for the fruit’s browning by using pressure fluctuations generated by steam.
It also eliminates crop wastage, by processing second-grade avocados into pulp and slices.
“There’s essentially two groups of technologies, high pressure processing [HPP] is used predominately on pulp and guacamole.
“It’s aimed at killing the pathogen level, the microbe level in the avocado pulp and it does a great job of that.
“The only problem with it is, as soon as you open the HPP bag, the browning process starts straight away.
“The second group of technology is the sliced, diced products produced around the world in pretty much the same way and they all use either chemicals or additives or products to treat the surface of the avocado.
“But that imparts a flavour characteristic to the dice or slice which is a little bit acidic and unpleasant to the taste.
“Our technology kind of takes the best of all the technologies that are there.
“It has the bacterial kill, the food safety step, we don’t change the flavour, or taste of the avocado and most importantly it has a shelf life of at least ten days after opening the bag.”
Mr Hastings believes the technology provides opportunities for Australian avocado growers to produce sliced, diced or pulped product for use here and abroad.
The ‘Avocado Time Machine’ was not in use on the day ABC Rural visited but Mr Hastings explained the process.
“The avocados would come off a conveyor belt where they’ve been sliced, diced or pulped and then would come into our machine,” he said.
“Some six minutes later it comes out the other end.
“The magic occurs in the first part of the process, with a combination of pressure fluctuations, temperatures. There’s nothing added, it’s all just natural processes.
“It’s all about finding a way of triggering or stopping the enzyme and turning that off.
“We make a claim of ten days shelf life after you’ve opened the bag so you can leave them in the fridge and keep eating them for ten days, but they will last a lot longer than that.”
Mr Hastings’ business partner Frank Schreiber said the world-patented technology had met food safety standards required to export avocado products to fast-growing export markets including the USA, Asia and Europe.
A Sunshine Coast avocado co-operative, that did not want to be identified at this stage, had bought the first ‘Avocado Time Machine’.