Packaged food industry is rapidly growing in India. Over the last 10 years, there has been a mushrooming growth of companies with a very regional focus. However, this is still a largely unorganized sector and concepts of robust supply chain and distribution chain haven’t truly pervaded the mindsets of budding entrepreneurs.
However, as many start-up companies reach a stable point in their business, they start to investigate ways and means to differentiate themselves in the market by having a fresher product and fewer returns from the shelves. Additionally, ability to increase the shelf life of the product directly impacts the bottom line of these companies.
In this educational article, we look at a technique called MODIFIED ATMOSPHERE PACKAGING (MAP) which uses Nitrogen for packaging and how it works.
Food preservation and packaging is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage (loss of quality, edibility or nutritional value) and thus allow for longer storage. It requires protection, tampering resistance, and special physical, chemical, or biological needs. It also shows the product that is labeled to show any nutrition information on the food being consumed.
Preservation and packaging usually involves preventing the growth of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and other micro-organisms (although some methods work by introducing benign bacteria, or fungi to the food), as well as retarding the oxidation of fats which cause rancidity. Food preservation techniques have come a long way from smoking, canning and eventually, plain-old refrigeration and freezing to help maintain flavor while delaying spoilage and waste.
Lack of quality control in the packaging process may allow ingress of water or micro-organisms. Most such failures are rapidly detected as decomposition within the packaged material causes gas production and the packet eventually bursts. However, there have been examples of poor manufacturing (underprocessing) and poor hygiene allowing contamination of packaged food by the obligate Anaerobe Clostridium Botulinum, which produces an acute toxin within the food, leading to severe illness or death. This organism produces no gas or obvious taste and remains undetected by taste or smell. Its toxin is denatured by cooking, though.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is also known as gas flushing, protective atmosphere packaging or reduced oxygen packaging. Modified Atmosphere enables fresh and minimally processed packaged food products to maintain visual, textural and nutritional appeal. The controlled MAP environment enables food packaging to provide an extended shelf life without requiring the addition of chemical preservatives or stabilizers. Processors and marketers of food products rely on Modified Atmosphere Packaging to assure fresh and flavorful products that continually meet the consumer’s expectation for brand quality, consistency, freshness and in-stock availability.
Longer shelf life MAP packages allow food processors, food manufacturers, food distributors and food retailers to better control product quality, availability and costs. Longer freshness cycles permit retailers to eliminate frequent product rotation, removal and restocking; thereby reducing labour and waste disposal costs. Distributors can extend distribution territories or offer a greater variety of product lines to the retailer, since less frequent product replacement requirements permits growth in other areas.
Food manufacturers are able to take advantage of extended replacement cycles to reduce production replacement demands. Manufacturing capacity can be more profitably utilized by developing and offering new products.
Today, Nitrogen gas is a critical element in the food manufacturing industry. As an essential part of modified atmospheres — the combination of gases inside food packaging that helps prolong shelf life — it is critical as it helps keep food costs down while ensuring that more food can get to more people who may not have had easy access before. Nitrogen Gas is available in cylinders, in liquid form and it can also be produced on site.
Delivered liquid nitrogen requires that the gas first be converted to a liquid state for truck transport. Upon delivery, the liquid must be converted back to a gas — this is almost like pouring a glass of water in the kitchen, turning it to ice in the freezer, carrying this solid block to your living room and melting it again so you can drink it. That’s a lot of work for a glass of water. Furthermore, product loss from these two filling points — loading at the nitrogen facility into the truck and unloading from the truck at the manufacturing facility — creates product waste, not to mention additional charges for delivery.
Shifting to Nitrogen gas production at your site not only provides great opportunities for cost savings at food manufacturing facilities, it’s also a sure way to a more environmentally friendly future. Food manufacturers can trim costs anywhere between 60-80% when shifting to on-site nitrogen generation, depending on current liquid nitrogen market prices. When considering the capital costs associated with onsite nitrogen generation (costs such as generators, air compressors, receivers, site preparation, power and maintenance), customers can realize a return on investment in as few as 1-2 years and will see day-to-day operational costs cut nearly 80%— just maintenance and energy costs. Weighing options and competitive pricing from nitrogen suppliers can increase savings even more.
MVS Engineering has supplied over 1000 Nitrogen Generators. We have an extensive list of Nitrogen Generators in the Packaged Food industry. For such Nitrogen Gas Plants for your food packaging application, you please contact our sales department or send us your enquiry.
MVS Engineering is a turnkey supplier of Gas generation equipment for Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen gases. Additionally, we also manufacture Air, Gas, Liquid Dryers and also Gas Purification systems. MVS is the largest supplier of gaseous Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen plants in India. Besides India, MVS also regularly exports it’s equipment to the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Europe.
MVS was founded in 1977 and has supplied over 7000 Skid mounted units worldwide. Read more about the company in the About Us section of our website.