Great Article by Wittgas:
How Modified Atmosphere Packaging extends the shelf life of food products
Basics of Modified Atmosphere Packaging
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is well established in the food industry and continues to gain in importance. MAP means, simply put, that the natural ambient air in the package is replaced by a gas or gas mixture, often nitrogen and carbon dioxide. This packaging under a protective atmosphere preserves the quality of fresh produce over a longer period of time, prolongs shelf life, and gives food producers access to a geographically larger market for perishable products. This is suitable for meat and sausage products, fish, dairy products, bread, fruit and vegetables, and convenience products.
Modified atmospheres are not limited to the packaging process. They can also feature as part of the production process, for example, in the storage and transport of fruit and vegetables in halls or containers.
The standards required by modified atmosphere packaging are comparatively high and must be controlled and monitored to ensure safety. Therefore, food manufacturers rely on modern MAP gas technology and various levels of quality assurance for maximum process safety.
Benefits of modified atmospheres
- Longer shelf life / higher quality
Food packaged under a protective atmosphere spoils at a much slower rate. Combined with continuous cooling, modified atmosphere packaging can significantly extend the freshness and shelf life. This effect varies depending on the product type. However, a doubling of the shelf life is usually possible. In general, MAP products keep a high quality over a longer period of time and arrive at the consumer in the best possible condition.
- Less waste
Longer durability is often associated with fewer problems during long distance shipment – and a longer shelf life. As a result, waste disposal due to spoiled food can often be reduced.
- More sales opportunities
Because of the longer shelf life, modified atmosphere packaging typically opens up new geographic markets to manufacturers. Particularly with perishable goods, longer shipment distances can be achieved, and a global market can become a reality.
- Fewer preservatives
As packaging under a protective atmosphere extends the shelf life of food, the use of preservatives can be reduced or even completely eliminated in many cases. Consumers get products that do not contain artificial additives.
- Appealing package design
Next to functional aspects, the design of the packaging plays a significant role in the competition for consumers. The look and feel, in addition to the quality impression, influence the purchasing behavior. Modified atmosphere packaging is very well suited for the most appealing package design and presentation of the food product.