As more and more emphasis is placed on prolonging shelf life in the food industry, in a safe and affordable manner, vacuum packaging is being utilised to ever increasing levels. The global vacuum packing industry continues to thrive as industrialisation across the globe continues apace.

Every aspect of the food industry utilises vacuum packaging technology, including the production process itself, transportation and storage and display of products in retail outlets.

Increasing shelf life

Vacuum packaging has become one of the most effective means of extending shelf life for food processing and retail industries. Vacuum packing materials such as pouches and shrinking materials are used to wrap products in an air tight manner; any air present is removed during the vacuum packaging process.

This process removes oxygen from around the product and stops aerobic micro-organisms from growing. It’s these organisms that often cause a food product to deteriorate quickly, so eliminating their presence increases the amount of time that food can remain in good condition on the shelf. Packaging in this way also reduces the risk of spoilage as a result of oxidisation.

The financial benefits of vacuum packaging for the food industry are substantial, when you add up the amount of spoilage that is avoided.

Different methods of vacuum packing

There is not one single method of vacuum packaging available; different methods are employed. Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a different method to simple vacuum packaging. Instead of oxygen simply being removed, it’s replaced by a blend of gases, usually a combination of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Different types of food stuff react best to different mixes of gas. The way they react helps to better increase shelf life and preserve taste quality of food over time.

MAP technology has combined with regular vacuum packaging technology to create the skin packaging process. The food product is placed on a tray and covered with film. The air between the tray and the film is removed and the film protects the product like a skin.

All of these processes can protect food products and increase their shelf life; and it’s not just this increase in shelf life that is a benefit of vacuum packaging.

Other benefits of vacuum packaging

The food industry is embracing vacuum packaging technology in order to take advantage of all the benefits it brings.

Reducing the loss of product.

The number of products which are lost through spoilage reduces as a result of vacuum packaging. This reduction usually results in an increase in profits for companies.

Protection from pest and contaminants

Vacuum packaging is normally between 3mm and 8mm thick, depending on what type of product is being packaged. This thickness of packaging helps to protect the product from potential contaminants such as dust and dirt and from pests such as insects.

Protection from freezer burn

Products that are to be stored in a freezer for a long period of time can be protected against freezer burn by vacuum packaging.

Sealing in of flavour

Vacuum packaging can be really useful in the sealing in of flavours that have been produced in processes such as the curing of meat.

Lack of the need for chemicals

Many of the food preservation techniques that have been used over the years have required the use of chemicals. There is no need to use chemicals during the vacuum packaging process. This is good news for the consumer as they get to eat more natural products, it’s also good news for the food industry as it’s able to meet the growing demand for this type of natural product.

Presentation of products

Food product producers and retailers place a great deal of reliance on the appearance of a product to help them attract consumer interest. Vacuum packaging enables consumers to see the quality of the product that is contained within, with no obstructions. It’s an affordable means of showcasing food to its best effect.

Variety of options

One of the best features of vacuum packaging is that it’s available in a variety of different forms including rolls of packaging material and individual bags. Companies can choose the vacuum packaging option which best suits their needs.

Efficiency of the packaging process.

Once a company has an effective vacuum packaging process in place, it can package hundreds of thousands of products in the space of just one hour.

The vacuum packaging process increases the shelf life pf products by enabling them to be packaged in an air-tight manner. This type of packaging is also popular for its affordability and for the fact that it can also protect products against contaminants and pests.