Wpis dostępny jest także w języku: polski
Changes in consumers’ eating habits were greatly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consumers began to pay more attention to the shelf life of products, which not only allowed them to visit grocery shops less often but also reduced the amount of perishable food. Therefore, in 2021, one of the most important trends in the food industry appeared to be the pascalisation process, which allows food to be fixed without food preservatives or high temperatures.
According to the Food Bank and scientists from the Programme for Rationalisation and Reduction of Food Waste (PROM), the amount of food wasted in Poland is about 5 million tonnes. Households are responsible for more than half of losses, as much as 60%. In shops, 7% of food is wasted, whereas losses caused by transport and storage are minimal. The growing “zero waste” trend means that an increasing number of consumers are opting for a sustainable diet, and, consequently, more and more customers are willing to buy products with a longer shelf life.
The pascalisation process (HPP) allows products – both food and cosmetics – to be preserved through short-term treatment with high pressure. This makes it possible to extend the shelf life of foods without adding preservatives or using heat treatment. Importantly, HPP at moderate pressure generally does not alter the smell or taste of food, so product quality is not compromised. As an increasing number of consumers are turning their attention to products with health benefits, including those containing immune-boosting vitamins and micronutrients, pascalisation appears to be an optimal solution which both extends the shelf life of products and preserves their physicochemical properties. Additionally, HPP is a waste-free process, and the low-temperature treatment of foodstuffs makes pascalisation environmentally friendly.
Pascalisation makes it possible to extend the shelf life of fresh and processed products by several times, and in the case of meat and fish products, HPP makes it possible to extend this period by four times. The fruit and vegetable industry benefits from pascalisation, extending the shelf life of food by up to 10 times, while producers of juices, drinks, vegetable milk, and smoothies extend it by up to 30 times.
It is worth noting that pascalisation allows for the removal of many dangerous substances, which can be a threat to the health and life of consumers. Just a few minutes of exposure to as much as 6,000 bar pressure is enough to inactivate bacteria (e.g. E.coli or salmonella), mould, fungi, and other dangerous pathogens. In addition, HPP effectively inactivates viruses, for instance, avian influenza virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, and human cytomegalovirus.
What do consumers choose?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the eating habits of consumers around the world, and experts believe that some of the new preferences will remain unchanged for a long time. Ready-made meals are becoming popular, and their manufacturers offer products that meet the growing demands of consumers. According to a PMR survey conducted in November 2020, as many as two-thirds of respondents had purchased pre-packed ready-made meals in the six months preceding the survey.
The shelf life of products is also playing an increasingly important role, with consumers more likely to choose items with a longer shelf life. According to data from the Deloitte survey, as many as 28% of consumers choose to buy frozen or otherwise processed products that they would have previously bought fresh. The shift also relates to shopping preferences, as consumers are more likely to choose ‘just in case’ products over JIT products. Many sustainability-minded consumers are paying attention to the so-called ‘clean label’, which identifies products that are natural and free of artificial additives, and are choosing products with transparent ingredients and high quality.
Pandemic-driven changes have led food manufacturers to increasingly use innovative technologies to deliver the highest quality offerings. Pascalisation seems to be a solution that fits the needs of the food market. Proof of this can be seen in the sales figures, which according to 360 Research Reports reached $1055 m in 2019. The sales are expected to reach up to $2123m in 2025, and the cumulative annual growth rate is likely to remain at 12.34% between 2020 and 2025.