Shelf life improvement

How can I guarantee that my product tastes good and extend its shelf life? Or can I make it taste even better, for the whole of its shelf life? These, deceptively simple, questions are engaging every company in the business of fresh food, whether grower, manufacturer, retailer or caterer.

Wageningen University & Research Food & Biobased Research helps chain partners to understand all the factors that impact the quality of their products. Using a multidisciplinary approach to optimise quality throughout the chain, we enable chain partners to respond quickly and efficiently to consumer feedback and to strengthen their market position.

Fresh food quality

Imagine fresh fruit juice that has undergone minimal processing but has a shelf life of at least three weeks. Or mangos and avocados that are ripe enough, but not too ripe, all year round. Pre-cut vegetables that are still crunchy after a week. Companies in the fresh food chain are faced with demanding consumers who want better quality and availability of fresh food whether in the supermarket, at a filling station, on a plane or down at the weekly farmer’s market. At the same time, they need to guarantee food safety, improve sustainability and keep costs down. These goals come with significant challenges, when ingredients and products are sourced from all over the world.

Integrated approach

Food & Biobased Research develops practical solutions that enable companies in the fresh food chain to meet these challenges: models to measure or predict the quality of ingredients and products, over time, and new concepts for preservation, storage, packaging and transport.

Our unique, integrated approach allows us to make smart connections between different functional areas, making whole-chain optimisation a reality. Our expertise ranges from fresh food and post-harvest technology to mild preservation techniques, food safety, fresh logistics and consumer acceptance.

For over 35 years we have been supporting global businesses in their commitment to produce tasty products with a long shelf life. Food & Biobased Research projects address diverse questions brought to us by our chain partners. These range from “How can I serve a broader market?” and “Should I switch from fresh to frozen and how could I do so?” to “Which mild preservation technique is suitable for my product?” and “What do consumers think of this technology?”.

Cooperation in the chain

We are convinced that an integrated, multidisciplinary and chain-based approach is necessary to create products that taste good and have a longer shelf life. The use of Pulsed Electric Fields (PEF) is only possible if the entire production chain is involved, with high-quality ingredients and efficient transport and distribution systems. Consumers also have to accept the mild preservation: Do they think the product still tastes good after treatment and do they see it as 'fresh'?

The same goes for the use of advanced Dynamic Control System (DCS). A method for closely matching storage conditions, such as temperature and CO2 content, to the desired quality and shelf life of the product. Such system is only effective if chain partners adhere to a transparent working practices and the free exchange of information.

Along with our broad knowledge and expertise, our large network gives us an unrivalled ability to bring together partners from the fresh-produce chain in projects and consortia. In the Mild Preservation public-private partnership (PPS) we work together with food manufacturers, equipment suppliers and the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to develop and optimise techniques that give added value to both the food and technology sectors. The common starting point is creating safe, healthy and sustainably-produced foods.