Active Packaging Makes Clean Labeling a Reality

The trend has become the rule. What was once thought to be a passing interest for some has become the norm for many. Clean label food and beverages are products that contain clean and simple ingredients. According to Food Insider Journal, 75% of consumers will pay more for clean label ingredients.[1]

With consumers driving the innovation, the food and beverage industry has shifted toward processing, creating, and delivering products with fewer ingredients using active packaging solutions. Health-conscious consumers across all demographics, from millennials to those in retirement age, are demanding ingredients that they can recognize and pronounce. 

Today’s consumer now knows, and cares about, what the cow ate that made the milk, that made the yogurt, that goes into their parfait – consumers want to know what they are eating and drinking.[2]

In response to the shifting industry, food manufacturers are replacing or removing unnecessary ingredients and, in an effort, to minimize ingredient lists, including customized oxygen and moisture management solutions in their product packaging. Now, rather than interfering with the food and its inherent nutrients, the packaging is enhanced.

Prior to the shift toward clean labeling, many additives in foods had been included as solutions to control oxidation and moisture. Naturally occurring vitamins and antioxidants break down in the presence of oxygen and moisture and foods were typically ‘boosted’ with additional vitamins and chemical preservatives to offset the loss due to degradation. Vitamins that would otherwise be lost due to oxidation during storage and distribution can be preserved with active packaging solutions.

Oxygen absorbers have demonstrated the ability for manufacturers to effectively produce clean label foods that stay fresh, healthy, and tasty, for longer. Active oxygen scavenging placed in packaging makes it possible to rely on a foods natural vegetable oils and avoids the use of synthetic antioxidants such as BHA, BHT, and TBHQ. With an oxygen absorber, trace minerals in food such as iron and tin do not oxidize as fast which negates the need for adding chelating agents, such as EDTA and citric acid, to foods.

Moisture regulation is essential for foods to maintain freshness and texture. When too much moisture is present, foods containing saturated fats can hydrolyze during storage and change the flavor of foods. Additives often help food retain the mouthfeel and texture and with active humidly control in active packaging, surfactants, emulsifiers, and glycerin or polyols are no longer required.

A variety of strategies can be used to enhance packaging and help manufacturers create clean label products. Experienced sorbent suppliers work with food and beverage manufacturers to determine the requirements of the product and consider its characteristics, packaging materials, distribution schedules and shelf lives in order to promote healthier foods with fewer chemical additives. 

Consumers have spoken and they want clean labels. The industry is responding by incorporating active packaging. Unnecessary additives and preservatives are being removed as the industry shifts toward healthier, sustainable foods with packaging solutions to control oxidation and moisture.