Though the average consumer has likely never heard the word “aseptic,” a growing number of dairy-based products use aseptic processing. The aseptic process, which involves heating the product for 2-15 seconds on high temperatures, sterilizing packaging and storing the final product in a sealed container free of pathogens, has become a desired way to provide liquid products to grocery retailers across the globe.
Restaurants are drawn to aseptic products due to the ability to store these items in an ambient temperature zone instead of inside a fridge. From a food safety perspective, aseptic also has advantages in that items that are aseptically packaged bloat if spoiled, ensuring that restaurants can quickly assess and dispose of product that provides a food safety hazard. Restaurants are also drawn to the products’ long shelf lives, with some items lasting for up to a year if unopened.
As consumers continue to demand eco-friendly solutions, restaurants and stores are finding that aseptic dairy is a sustainable solution that ensures less energy usage.
Here are three trends will continue to make an impact in the development of aseptic dairy packaging.
The need for traceability has grown throughout the food industry, and the aseptic industry is no different. KanPak, Wichita, Kan., and its parent company Golden State Foods, Irvine, Calif., began working with IBM, New Castle, N.Y., in 2017 on a blockchain pilot with fresh beef. KanPak continues to monitor the pilot in order to implement key learnings into the supply chain. Some of these learnings include the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) as well as connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Though these technologies are still in their infancy, consumer desire for transparency is pushing aseptic dairy companies to quickly innovate.
Restaurants are also demanding more from their suppliers. And, at some point in the near future, supply chain technology will allow companies to trace dairy products from the cow to the manufacturing plant to the store, where consumers can learn where their dairy products came from by the date code on the item.
New packaging technologies
Since customers are always looking for ways to cut costs and reduce waste, aseptic dairy companies working to provide new packaging technologies that include portion control options and ease-of-use. One large area of growth is in aseptic bottling line technologies. An updated bottling line provides a better barrier to bottle that allows aseptic producers to get the footprint that customers want in a better packaging standpoint. It also provides a longer shelf life. However, the investment in bottling lines and new packaging technologies can be time-intensive (with some lines taking two years to come fully online).
Consumer demand for all-natural and plant-based
Customers continue to request all-natural coloring, the removal of non-natural flavorings and even total formulation changes excluding extensive preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients. To adjust for consumer demands, companies are working on formulas that transform creamers and ice cream into non-dairy, coconut-oil-based products that can be shipped worldwide.