Consumer preferences have shifted towards fresh food products. This generates a greater demand for products that retain stability and quality while having a longer shelf life. In cooperation with companies in the food industry, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is working on the development and implementation of new mild preservation techniques.
New mild preservation techniques, such as high-pressure processing (HPP) and pulsed electric field processing (PEF), inactivate micro-organisms as effectively as standard heating techniques – and moreover have the added bonuses of retaining flavour, texture and nutritional value while consuming less energy. As a result, shelf life is extended and products do not have to be thrown out so soon.
Shelf life and quality
We have been researching mild preservation techniques for over fifteen years. Focus is on the interaction between process & product and reinforcing microbial safety in order to achieve improvements in shelf life and quality. We use this knowledge to develop concrete processes for the mild preservation of food products. Most processes can be tested at laboratory and pilot level to offer quick insights into the effects of a technology on the product. Consumer acceptation, upscaling and implementation are also among our activities.
Research into mild preservation
Wageningen University & Research plays a leading role in the research into mild preservation techniques. We are in charge of NovelQ, a major European research project, for instance, and are working with other parties in public-private partnerships to gain a better understanding and further development of technologies. We also work in one-on-one projects with companies - for example, a PEF process we developed with a manufacturer of fresh juices has extended shelf life by up to three weeks and considerably increased the company’s export market.