Aseptic processing and packaging to support ‘gentle juice’ growth

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coffee, Drink, Marketing

The aseptic processing and packaging of so-called ‘gentle juices’ has a key role to play in the expected growth in this part of the beverage sector, said SIG Combibloc.

The German-based company said the juice industry was tapping into consumer demand for acid-sensitive drinks by producing a raft of products that are especially mild and digestible. The firm told FoodProductionDaily.com that it expected a number of these new drinks to be brought to market in the coming months.

This growth in consumer demand is also fuelling increased supply from beverage companies, said SIG global market segment manager Norman Gierow.

“With their buying behaviour, consumers determine the success of a product,”​ he added. “Accordingly, our customers in the food industry are geared towards catering to prevailing consumer needs.”

Gierow said that SIG’s processing methods and the packaging used for these juices have a major role in the protection and quality maintenance of the products.

“Foods and beverages react to natural light,” ​he said. “They alter in appearance and in flavour, thereby losing quality. For instance, the fat content in foods oxidises if exposed to light, and the fats become rancid.”

Exposure to light can also destroy vitamins and amino acids, as well damaging pigments such as carotene and chlorophyll – leading to the tainting of flavours, added Gierow.

Packaging and processing

The barrier properties provided by cardboard, polyethylene and aluminium materials in aseptic packaging maintain product integrity. The inner polyethylene layers act as a liquid barrier for the beverage, while the outer layer keeps out moisture, said a SIG spokeswoman.

“Cardboard gives the carton pack the necessary stability. Aluminium protects the contents from light, external odours and oxygen,”​ she said.

Oxygen protection for juices is vital for product protection and quality retention, the spokeswoman added.

SIG said the use of its “gentle aseptic process” ​to make both the packaging and product germ-free is also significant. Juices are heated – depending on their acid content – to around 90°C and then cooled quickly to room temperature. The beverage carton sleeves are shaped and sterilised inside the filling machines, before the liquid is added in the sterile zone of the equipment. This process preserves the sensory quality, vitamin content and natural colour of juices, said SIG.

“Of course, this also applies to the aseptic filling of gentle juice variants,”​ said Gierow. “We believe that the range of these products available in aseptic carton packs is set to mushroom in the next few years. The demand from consumers is there.”

The company told FoodProductionDaily.com said this “conviction” ​was based on close collaboration and “avid discussion”​ with its global clients.

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