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Vac skin package

Technology: The core ingredient in ‘natural’ foods

Meeting the demands of an ever-changing marketplace, such as ‘natural’ and ‘clean label’, is a challenge for food processers, and often technically/financially infeasible for many plants and their personnel. But, ironically, it is technology that opens the way to meeting these current NPD heights.

 Jeffrey Andrews, Director of Contract Manufacturing, HP Hood, writes….

Technology is one of the best tools food processors have in their arsenal to meet these demands, especially technologies that help produce foods that have clean labels and/or appear fresher. When one steps back and looks at how the food industry has grown, there is a direct correlation between the development and implementation of new technologies and getting new and more desirable products to market.

There is a broad range of such technologies. They include filtration technologies; thermal processing technologies, especially high-temperature, short-time or agitating processes that produce minimal changes in flavour and texture; high-pressure processing which may be used for processing high-value products without altering characteristics; in-package technologies for pasteurization or sterilisation; and packaging technologies employing new materials and/or modified atmospheres.

In meeting the marketing department’s demands, packaging is the most visible — but also one of the most impactful — for delivering clean label products that are commercially viable.

I-beam film skeletons allow film properties to be modified through the insertion of components that expand the capabilities of the package. They allow for better control of moisture-vapour transmission, enhanced vitamin retention and the adoption of a lighter overall package.

Processors can also better manage oxygen in packages through gas flushes, utilisation of modified-atmosphere (MAP) packaging, pulling a vacuum or the addition of oxygen scavengers. If a decision is made to use any of the oxygen technologies, such as vacuum or modified atmospheres, processors also need to adopt packaging that best showcases the technologies.

Modern, upmarket consumers are demanding with a strong interest in clean label products. Oddly, in order to meet their demand for simple, fresh food, the food processors must turn to the technologist to make it happen.

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