I have just returned from a mind-boggling visit to Garden Fresh Gourmet’s processing plants in Ferndale, Michigan. The image above is the programming screen for their ultra-high tech processor called HPP, or High Pressure Processing. In order to increase the shelf of their refrigerated fresh salsa and other deli delights, Jack Aronson installed this $3.5 million machine that kills every known bacterium, virus, protozoan, and mold, but not by heating. It’s pressure that does it. A careful look at the screen will reveal that the pressure setpoint is 80,548 pounds per square inch, which is the approximate equivalent of being three miles under the sea. Unbelievably, the plastic packaging used withstands the pressure! This treatment extends the shelf life of their salsa to 70 days refrigerated, but Jack tells me that it’s more like 100 days.
About 12 years ago, Jack had a Mexican restaurant in Ferndale and he came as an attendee to the Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and was inspired after tasting some fresh salsa. He started making fresh salsa and serving it to his customers and was soon supplying it to local supermarkets. Now Garden Fresh Gourmet is a $73 million dollar company and still growing at a furious pace. In fact, Jack has turned down acquisition offers from Nestle and Pepsico because he knows they would move his operation to other states and his 300 employees would be out of work. Jack still exhibits with us every year and enters the Scovie Awards. Garden Fresh has won more Scovies that any other company–a testament to high quality and hard work. For more information, go here.