It’s part of the science of baking: in addition to the chemistry that happens during the baking process, there are scientific ways to extend the shelf life of packaged bakery products through both ingredients and packaging.
On the packaging side, packaging experts and manufacturers work together to create or update materials and formats that maintain the concurrent consumer demands for freshness, quality and longer shelf life. That’s not easy to balance, especially at a time when other consumer-driven packaging features like enhanced sustainability and e-commerce appeal are also in the R.&D. mix.
Resealable pouches are one package type used more in baked foods to extend shelf life in a smaller package footprint. As demand continues for natural, organic and gluten-free products that don’t contain additives or preservatives, there has been a renewed focus on active packaging, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and packages with higher barrier materials.
MAP packaging from the Cryovac division of Sealed Air Corp., for instance, keeps premium baked foods fresh beyond 40 days. The Cryovac MAP can be used for gluten-free and preservative free items, along with specialty and organic products.
Another example of recent innovation that delivers on multiple consumer demands comes from Ilapak, which has introduced a new Delta VACMAP technology that combines thermoforming shelf life with pillow pack presentation to boost the shelf life of baked foods like tortillas, pizzas and bread rolls without artificial ingredients and preservatives. The MAP technology performs gas flushing and vacuuming simultaneously and also has been placed in Ilapak’s vertical line to extend the shelf life of fresh-prepacked and par-baked bread rolls.
“With fresh products that are not porous, the shelf life can be extended simply by reducing the oxygen content down to less than 0.5% to 1%,” said Andrea Boccolini, product manager, Ilapak. “This approach isn’t sufficient to guarantee the shelf life of porous products such as bread rolls, however, as even if all the oxygen was taken out of the bag, oxygen would still remain within the product. This is where Ilapak’s VACMAP technology comes into play.”
She added that the system also allows for more environmentally friendly packaging formats that are lighter and lead to less waste.
Other packaging suppliers have devised solutions for packages that extend shelf life while also minimizing food waste and ensuring the quality of items with a more natural profile. An antimicrobial film from NanoPack, for example, was shown to double the shelf life of bread and baked products in the NanoPack Project sponsored by the E.U.; the films show down microbial growth using nanotechnologies.