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Thanks to growing consumer demand for preservative-free products, aseptic processing has gained significant traction in recent years.
Creating sterile, shelf-stable food and beverage products that don’t require refrigeration, aseptic processing operates by sterilizing liquid products outside of a container before sterilizing the container itself. These separate steps create an enhanced sterile environment, as the liquid and solid portions of the product require different sterilization techniques.
This ability to keep aseptically processed products tasting fresh without refrigeration is one reason why researchers predict the demand for this packaging to rise by 6.8% per year in the United States.
Popularity Among Consumers
Recent advances in aseptic technology have made this the process of choice in food and beverage packaging. Consumers appreciate the flexibility of products that don’t require refrigeration, and they notice the difference in flavor and product quality.
Plasmon Baby Food, for example, recently switched from using traditional plastic pots to an aseptically-packaged alternative, and now, consumers are saying Plasmon's food tastes much more like “real food.” The company has seen a huge jump in sales since making the switch and parents across the country are now able to provide fresher, healthier food options to their children.
Popularity Among Food & Beverage Companies
Experts predict the aseptic packaging industry’s value to rise to $6.4 billion by the year 2020 in the United States. The recent push to adopt healthier and more functional daily eating standards helps drive demand to aseptically packaged foods.
These trends and others have pushed food and beverage packagers to increasingly adopt aseptic processing techniques.
Aseptic processing utilizes a high-temperature-short-time (HTST) method for preservation. This exposes aseptically packaged products to heat for a much shorter time than other processing methods, meaning that the product loses less flavor to temperature-related chemical changes. This lack of heat also allows the product to retain more vitamins and brighter coloring than those packaged by other means.
Because aseptically packaged products stay fresh for longer periods of time at room temperature, it’s easier to ship them to emerging markets as well as domestic buyers. Aseptic packaging also relies more on automated processes than other packaging techniques, driving down labor costs and increasing the efficiency and output of packing plants—not to mention reducing the threat of potential contamination to each packaged product.
Recent changes to aseptic package design also allows these products to have more innovative branding options, including clear plastic, glass, and cardboard that allow for a wider range of colors and patterns. A wide range of liquid and semiliquid products appear in aseptic packaging, including iced coffee and tea, yogurt, energy drinks, smoothies, and dairy products.
Aseptic processing not only creates healthier products, it also allows these products to appear in a wider range of packaging, helping food and beverage producers to create more unique designs for their branding.
Image Credit: Degtiarova Viktoriia / Shutterstock.com