Natural preservation: Spotlighting food safety, tackling waste and going beyond clean label
21 Jul 2021 --- The demand for natural solutions that are safe, transparent and sustainable is driving innovation within the natural preservation space. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored food safety in general while tackling food waste and extending shelf life remain cornerstones of natural preservations.
However, other key factors push the demand for natural preservation solutions, technologies and techniques such as authenticity, convenience and nutrition. FoodIngredientsFirst examines the latest developments and talks to key industry players for their views.
A natural line of defense
Guillaume Gaborit, global product manager preservation at Givaudan, agrees that combating food degradation and tackling food waste remain crucial themes in food preservation. However, over the past year, consumers have fundamentally changed the way that they monitor and address their health and have moved to a more mindful mode of consumption, he notes.
“Today’s consumers are actively seeking more authenticity from their food experiences. For food preservation, this means natural, clean, clear, safe and efficient solutions to extend shelf life. It also means expanding these solutions into rapidly growing markets, such as plant-based products, that fit with new dietary trends,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Consumers are looking for natural, clean and clear labels because they contribute to an overall satisfaction with the product experience. From reading the label to preparing and consuming the product, consumers relish the knowledge that they are making choices that are good for their bodies and good for the planet,” he says.
To respond to this demand, Givaudan continues to work to develop natural and clean label preservation solutions that perform.
“With food spoilage and safety concerns at an all-time high, demonstrating efficacy is more important than ever. With over 30 years of botanical experience, Givaudan [can] provide the science that’s needed to create tomorrow’s shelf life solutions and offer consumers the lasting food experiences they expect,” Gaborit notes.
Plant-based growth & natural beverages
The breadth of applications for natural preservation is certainly growing, with an array of solutions proving popular right now.
“Beverages are seeking natural preservation solutions that are based on ingredients rather than reliant on process. Effective sorbate and benzoate replacement is a popular topic in all-natural beverages. Kerry offers unique technology to formulate beverages without sorbates and benzoates,” Bert de Vegt, global vice president food protection & preservation at Kerry, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Plant-based meat and dairy are seeking natural solutions to ensure quality over shelf life. These often need protection beyond just their animal-based counterparts’ challenges with help maintaining taste, texture and appeal over refrigerated shelf life as well as nutritional improvements,” he explains.
Moreover, Givaudan is also witnessing demand for natural preservation across all categories, with the highest demand in processed meat, sauces, and dressings.
“Meanwhile, we’re seeing the most growth for natural preservation solutions in plant-based products as consumers move toward healthier and more sustainable diets. Givaudan’s leading expertise in the plant-based arena has allowed us to help our customers deliver authentic plant-based experiences with lasting taste, color and texture,” Gaborit continues.
Natural preservation via cheese cultures
DSM knows consumers of today have high demands for their products and how they want a great taste and shorter, more recognizable ingredient lists.
Global consumers are more interested than ever in learning more about where foods come from. This is backed up by Innova Market Insights data which says 60 percent of global consumers feel this way.
“This has placed more pressure on cheese manufacturers to source natural preservatives that are also sustainable. With the added increased importance of shelf life, manufacturers are seeking solutions that help to deliver consistently delicious dairy products that guarantee great quality when they reach consumers,” Christian Hemmer, global business manager cheese, DSM, explains.
“By protecting cheese against spoilage, like late blowing, DSM’s all-in-one Dairy Safe portfolio can save manufacturers the time and expense of producing a defective product, while also enabling producers to upgrade cheese whey to infant-nutrition quality,” he notes.
“Within the dairy industry, more sustainable and clean-label products are increasingly popular. For example, demand for great-tasting and natural cheese is on the rise, with 34 percent of consumers choosing cheese products that contain fewer additives or preservatives. Manufacturers are under increasing pressure to meet this demand, which comes with its own challenges.”
DSM recently announced the extension of its Dairy Safe portfolio with a selection of new phage-robust culture rotations. With the new cultures, cheese producers can ensure reliable and consistent cheese production using natural ingredients.
“With cheese consumption on the rise and expected to continue to rise by two to three percent annually, there is an ongoing demand for innovation and more efficient processes throughout all applications. In semi-hard goat’s cheese, for example, Dairy Safe cultures provide a natural alternative for nitrate and Lysozyme,” Hemmer continues.
“With every innovation, DSM is constantly assessing consumer trends and ensuring that our solutions remain natural and sustainable in every application.”
What opportunities remain in natural preservation?
DSM research shows that consumers believe natural preservatives are healthier and better tasting. They are also willing to pay more for products containing natural ingredients, which presents an opportunity for manufacturers to source natural preservatives.
“Sustainability and food security are also rising up the consumer agenda. This presents an interesting opportunity for manufacturers to illustrate the steps they take to avoid food waste. Considering that a third of all food, 1.3 billion tons, is wasted every year, there is a significant challenge to overcome, and it’s one that food manufacturers can take an authoritative stance on,” Hemmer adds.
“Everything from more efficient and sustainable manufacturing processes to prolonging shelf life and improving packaging has a role to play in reducing food waste. And we may see this become a key message to consumers in the future,” he concludes.
De Vegt also reiterates the significance of sustainability and how it will continue to shape consumer purchases.
“Consumers who read labels also care about sustainability and will not accept food waste as a trade-off to clean label. This means the short shelf life from all-natural, homemade products is often too short to fit into industry supply chains and the consumer’s busy lifestyle, meaning that producers must formulate with consumer-friendly preservation ingredients or processes to maintain clean, kitchen cupboard labels while meeting shelf life expectations and not creating food waste in their move to all-natural,” he says.
Gaborit at Givaudan believes there is still much work to be done in helping manufacturers make the switch to natural ingredients.
“Givaudan is helping to accelerate the replacement of synthetic additives by demonstrating relevancy, performance, and cost-efficiency as well as ensuring that sustainable practices are implemented in the production of clean and natural alternatives,” he says.
Beyond clean label
There are specific microorganisms that are not effectively inhibited in all applications with single clean label ingredients and whose sensory impact at the levels required stops the solution from being viable, according to De Vegt from Kerry.
“Leveraging product synergies when used in combination at lower doses as well as building taste into systems remains an important yet complex opportunity that we haven’t seen the industry address in a meaningful way,” he says.
There are opportunities beyond clean label, De Vegt also notes.
“While we have focused on consumers who will pay a significant premium for clean label and natural, we will never meet the needs of all demographics with this. We estimate that today, only 10 percent of global food volume is protected by clean label ingredients. The rest is either not preserved or uses conventional preservatives or processes.”
“There are opportunities to deliver safe food that lasts longer to more consumers with cost-effective, sustainable solutions that benefit consumer health and reduce food waste. For some consumers, affordability, trust, and enough safe food for their families will have more value than clean label/natural.”
By Gaynor Selby
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