Active packaging: extending the shelf life of fruit and vegetables

Technology

Active packaging keeps food products in optimum condition for longer. This means it keeps them stable, safe and fresh with all their organoleptic properties (like flavour and aroma) intact. The particular features of this type of packaging mean it can slow oxidation processes and regulate moisture content.

Active packaging ensures food products, such as fruit and vegetables, have a longer shelf life . As such, it is a key tool in the distribution cycle and provides excellent support in terms of food safety.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTIVE PACKAGING

Active packaging is already part of how we buy and store food because we seek solutions to compensate for the little time we have to prepare and eat fresh, healthy food.  This is of particular concern in today’s post-pandemic world as we have an increased awareness of the importance of eating healthily and effectively protecting food products from exterior contaminants.

TYPES OF ACTIVE PACKAGING

As well as preserving the integrity, taste, aroma and texture of a product, active packaging has many other functions. It can absorb and even emit substances that help keep the interior free from microbes and protect the product from the negative effects of oxygen and ethylene, for example.

There are types of active packaging that neutralise certain substances, and others that directly provide them. This gives added value to the product, which is much increased if we combine these properties with those of smart packaging.

Active packaging can also be used  in heating and cooling processes, thereby aiding the processing and consumption of the product, as well as extending its shelf life.

HOW DOES ACTIVE PACKAGING EXTEND THE SHELF LIFE OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES? 

The obvious benefit of active packaging is being able to keep fresh food in perfect condition for longer. It also preserves flavour and aroma, making life easier for people who don’t have time to prepare fruit and vegetables, and encouraging people to improve their diet by introducing these basic foods.

Another benefit of extending the shelf life of fruit and vegetables through active packaging is that it helps avoid food waste, as it can be stored (in proper conditions) and transported further over a longer period.

SP GROUP, ACTIVE PACKAGING AND THE SHELF LIFE OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

At SP Group we are committed to innovation and to finding materials that provide with the best consumer experience. We are helping develop exceptional active packaging that ensures safe, tasty products, in particular fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables have a short shelf life, but active packaging turns them into products of medium duration,  making life easier for consumers. SP Group has participated in two projects principally focused in this field:

  • Scavenpack: In collaboration with other companies, SP Group is working towards the goal of developing active plastic packaging that lengthens the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. This consists of slowing the ripening and deterioration processes of a product to extend its life by 20%. This is achieved through the absorption of ethylene or the regulation of moisture. In this case we are working on a system of active packaging for tomatoes, one of the most main crops in Spain, that combines a PET/PE tray with a PE covering. This type of packaging would regulate moisture or neutralise the ethylene, as well as allowing the packaging to ‘breathe’.
  • Project Activeolive: The additives used in active packaging have an anti-microbial and anti-oxidant effect  and a lot of effort is made to ensure these are natural in origin. In this project, the active agents come from olive trees. Specifically, they are tocopherols and hydroxytyrosols, substances that are incorporated into the packaging to lengthen the shelf life of fruit and vegetables, as well as fish.

Active packaging represents a huge step forward in both food safety and culinary quality (due to its ability to maintain the properties of the food intact). It is also helping move towards a model of sustainable consumption.

For this reason, SP Group continues to work on projects in this field, trying to find increasingly advanced solutions. Would you like to learn more about our lines of research? Follow our current and finished projects and keep abreast of all the latest news in the food packaging sector.


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