Convenience, Ready-to-Eat and fresh cuts

Food should be healthy, tasty and in addition offer extra value to consumer: convenience. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research helps companies to optimise the storage condition of convenience food such as ready-to-eat meals or fresh-cut vegetables.

Convenience food reduce preparation difficulties and save cooking time. Convenience depends totally on the consumer needs. People living in a city or working all day have shown to appreciate food products that are easy and quick to consume (‘to go’ concept), and people living in countryside will more appreciate products presented together (‘all in one’ concept). In order to fulfil the basic requirements and combine it with convenience a dedicated package as hurdle technology is needed. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers this expertise from the food as well from the packaging side. For example we have developed the kilo potato concept and traffic light bell pepper packaging concept, still used by retailers.

Tasteful ready-to-eat meals

The key of success remains in understanding of requirements of each meal’s component in order to optimise the best storage condition. Additionally, the sensorial quality of the food needs to excel until the end of the shelf life period and the meal has to be safe for human consumption. Hurdles as modified atmosphere packaging, hot fill and gentle processing are the answer to reach the best convenient products. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research helps the industry to find the best solution for their product. Lately we replaced the post-pasteurisation of ready-to-eat meals by a strict controlled hot fill process combined with modified atmosphere packaging. We were able to assure the retention of natural taste and texture of meals until the end of the shelf life period (up to 18 days). This extension of shelf life can be obtained without the addition preservatives.

Shelf life of fresh-cut vegetables

The cutting process causes mechanical damages to fresh cut vegetables, but also stress. This has a drastic influence on the storage environment, because tissue under stress behaves different than non-damaged tissue. Even in these circumstances technology should perform to reach the required shelf life of fresh-cuts. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is able to predict quality within the packaging, thanks to our universal knowledge of the processes involved and our knowledge of the fruit and vegetables specifications and requirements. The shelf life performance of fresh-cut vegetables depends on the initial quality. We therefor integrate initial quality parameters into our predictive models. This enables shelf life extension and assures quality of fresh produce.