The shelf life of food is one of its most important properties. It is defined as the length of time food can be kept under stated storage conditions, whilst also maintaining its optimum quality and safety. It is of huge interest to both the consumer and the producer, and is dependent upon many factors including the food’s manufacturing process, the type of packaging used, the product’s ingredients, and its storage conditions.
Scientists have shown that the main factors which reduce microbial growth within food, and therefore increase the shelf-life of a product, are water availability, temperature, pH and oxygen levels. Furthermore, products that contain high levels of sugar or salt will contain less water, thereby limiting the chance for microorganisms to develop. Some food packs contain highly acidic contents, such as vinegar, which reduce the pH and microbial growth, this extending the shelf life of the food itself.
Extending the shelf-life of foods have vast benefits for manufacturers and the design of their supply chains. If a product can remain on the shelf for longer, wastage and returns are reduced, and more extensive distribution of the product is possible. Cashmere is an industry leader in advanced ERP systems and inventory management, designed to aid food and beverage manufacturers in this regard.
Most often it's fresh foods, rather than shelf-stable foods, or frozen products, which are favoured and valued by consumers – and therefore by extension, retailers. And traditionally many consumers find preservatives or other additives to make these fresh foods safe and stable, highly unappealing. Having said that, frozen food sales are up for the first time in five years by 1.4%, rising most in popularity amongst millennials. Frozen food is often a significantly cheaper option, and it’s convenient. Also the act of freezing doesn’t make food healthy or unhealthy. It depends upon the nutritional content of the food itself. Fruits frozen without added syrup or sugar, and products without added sodium, are perfectly healthy choices.
Companies such as Corbian are providing innovative natural solutions to increasing the shelf life of seafood. PURSAL is the brand name for their sodium and potassium lactates that can extend shelf life by up to 100%. This works by reducing the growth of bacteria including Pseudomonas and Enterobacter.
Ultimately when it comes to shelf-life management, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, is the most valuable asset you can invest in to save your business money. Integrating products with a long shelf–life into planning cycles is easy, but fresh products with short shelf-lives are best distributed using an ERP system. A good ERP system also reduces your chances of losing profit due to an item outliving its shelf-life and becoming unsellable.
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