In a world where consumers are increasingly conscious about the ingredients in their food and the environmental impact of packaging, food manufacturers face a daunting challenge: finding the delicate balance between clean labels and maintaining product shelf life.

The demand for clean labels

Consumers today are more discerning than ever, seeking food products that align with their health and sustainability goals. This has led to a surge in demand for clean labels, which provide transparent information about the ingredients used and their sourcing.

Clean labels allow consumers to make informed choices and avoid additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. However, adopting clean labels comes with its own set of challenges for food manufacturers.

The removal of certain additives and preservatives can impact the shelf life of products, making them more prone to spoilage or deterioration. This creates a dilemma: how to meet consumer demands for clean labels while ensuring that food remains safe and fresh for an extended period.

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The challenge of maintaining shelf life

Preservatives and additives play a vital role in extending the shelf life of food products. They inhibit microbial growth, prevent oxidation, and maintain the overall quality of the product over time.

However, some of these additives have raised concerns among consumers, leading to a growing demand for preservative-free and minimally processed food options.

Food manufacturers are exploring alternative methods to preserve products without compromising on quality or safety.

These include advancements in packaging technologies, such as modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and active packaging solutions. MAP involves modifying a package’s atmosphere to slow spoilage processes while active packaging incorporates elements that interact with the food to extend its shelf life.

While these innovations show promise, they also present new challenges. Implementing such technologies can be costly, requiring research, development and infrastructure investment.

What is more, there may be limitations in terms of compatibility with different food products and the need for specialised equipment for packaging.