How can manufacturers extend shelf life?

Manufacturers extend the shelf life of fresh and ambient foods using a wide variety of different techniques, including packaging technology and materials, food treatments and controlled environments.

Packaging solutions

  • Flexible retort packaging
  • Canned retort packaging
  • Vacuum packing
  • Moisture absorbers (desiccants)
  • Moisture scavengers
  • Oxygen absorbers
  • Oxygen scavengers
  • Ethylene absorbers
  • Airtight packaging
  • Absolute barrier packaging
  • Functional barrier packaging
  • Aseptic packaging
  • Packaging that prevents UV light penetration
  • Active Packaging (Anti-microbial agents on food or released from material)
  • Intelligent Packaging (that communicates to consumers and others throughout the value chain)
Food treatment
  • Artificial Preservatives
  • Lower moisture content
  • Boiling
  • Pasteurizing
  • Ultra-High Temperature processing (UHT)
  • Dehydrating
  • Freeze drying
  • Pickling (edible liquid such as brine, vinegar, alcohol or vegetable oil)
  • Curing Foods
  • Salting
  • High sugar levels
  • Nitrates
  • Smoking
  • Fermenting
  • High alcohol content
  • Acidity/alkaline levels
  • Irradiation
  • Pulsed electric field electroporation
  • Nonthermal plasma
  • High-pressure food preservation
  • Bio-preservation
  • Coatings
Product treatment (manufacturing and distribution)
  • Storage conditions
    • Heat
    • Light
    • Moisture
    • Pests
    • Impact damage
    • Sealed
  • Freezing
  • Chilling
  • Modified atmosphere warehousing
  • Modified atmosphere packaging
    • Nitrogen flushing packs
    • CO2 flushing packs

Manufacturers rarely aim to maximise shelf life, instead strike a compromise between shelf life, cost and sustainability objectives.

For example, tinned goods have been optimised to minimise the amount of steel or aluminium utilised to achieve a shelf life target.  This helps keep the costs down, but does not achieve, or aim to achieve maximum shelf life of the food.

Where a number of different food preservation methods are used simultaneously, extremely long shelf lives can be established, but these are more expensive for the manufacturer and hence these are reflected in higher selling prices for the consumer.  Note that these 'super long-life' products typically have shelf-lives of 5 - 30 years, depending on the precise nature of the food and packaging format.

Our product range includes optimised and targeted shelf life foods, with different products ensuring that safe, nutritious food is on hand long into the future.