One of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to food packaging is food shelf life. The aim of food packaging is to provide an optimal barrier effect and prolong the expiry of products for as long as possible, preserving their quality and organoleptic properties.
Choosing the right packaging solutions can extend the shelf life of food products but there are many factors to take into account. Let’s see some useful tips to optimize the shelf life of packaged products by choosing the right packaging.
What is a food’s shelf life?
Food shelf life refers to how long a food product will last – from the point of production to the point where its natural deterioration compromises the quality. This time span can be very short – such as with fresh and highly perishable products – or longer for long-life products.
Shelf life indicates a food product’s commercial life cycle, and during this period, the food must be safe for consumers to eat. There are three main factors that influence a food’s shelf life:
- The product’s chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics;
- The packaging method used;
- The storage methods before consumption.
How to extend the shelf life of food by choosing the right packaging
The best way for companies to increase the shelf life of foods is to choose the right type of packaging and the best packaging method. In order to improve food shelf life and reduce food waste, the best solution is protective or modified atmosphere packaging.
This technique involves replacing the air inside the packaging with a specific mixture of gases, using EU-approved compounds like nitrogen, argon, oxygen or carbon dioxide. Protective or modified atmosphere packaging offers a number of advantages, such as the possibility of increasing a product’s shelf life by 2 to 5 times compared to conventional methods.
The gases used to replace the air can slow down the chemical, physical and microbiological deterioration of food. They also help to preserve the product’s freshness, fragrance, aromas and organoleptic properties. This technique must be performed carefully to ensure a longer shelf life and a significant advantage, and it’s important to choose the right materials for the packaging.
Tips for packaging that improves food shelf life
In order to extend the shelf life with protective or modified atmosphere packaging, it’s essential to optimize all processes, from using the best mixture of gases for each individual food to meeting all health and hygiene standards. It is also crucial to choose the most appropriate packaging machines and the most suitable packaging to increase a product’s shelf life.
One of the best packaging solutions is rigid film, generally made of composite materials and suitable for protective atmosphere packaging systems. Another is laminated paper, which is ideal for packaging ready meals, cured meats, cheese and deli products. Other effective solutions include pillow bags – a professional, versatile and robust type of packaging – and flow pack packaging.
Volmar Packaging offers a wide range of high-quality solutions to optimize food shelf life, including rigid films, laminated paper and flow pack packaging. We offer reliable, secure and efficient solutions for protective or modified atmosphere packaging, including customizable options to meet all food industry needs.