Lesson #3 Air can give you a ‘headache’

The packaging format can affect a product’s shelf life

Some events get lodged into your brain and stay with you forever. They become your “I learnt the hard way kid…” (imagine a tough Hollywood actor saying this line) or “In my days, we always used to …” (for this line, imagine your granddad or grandma saying it) stories. This story is one of these events and learnings that even though it happened about 30 years ago it stayed with me. And it was not even my project at the time, but a very talented colleague’s of mine.

Can you guess this iconic brand?

Imagine you have this great biscuit which has been around for years and everybody loves it. It is penny stacked in a roll wrap, in other words one biscuit is on top of another and they are tightly wrapped in plastic film. Great if you are at home, you can take one out and eat it and put the rest in whatever container you use as the biscuit barrel (If you are reading this and don’t live in Britain, the biscuit barrel is not a barrel at all. It is just a small container that dreams of being a barrel !). But what if you are out and about?

The idea was groundbreaking in the UK biscuit and snacks market at the time. It sound obvious now, “Let’s make the biscuits smaller and put some of them in a little bag.” but it did create a brand new category at the time. Anyway I digress, this is about the techie dimension of the project not the marketing one.
Same recipe, same process, same packaging material, so same shelf life.
Right?… WRONG!
The shelf life of the new product was significantly reduced, main reason being … you’ve guest it, there was MORE AIR in the pack!
Of course there are things a food technologist can do to compensate for all this air bathing the product from all sides, and this is what we did. But I learnt that air, with all its ability to creep into the pack through the tiniest of holes, with its lovely oxygen and moisture, is a force to be reckoned with. The first thing I will always do is start a shelf life test in the right pack format, as soon as it is possible.

Same recipe, same process, same packaging material, so same shelf life.

Right?… WRONG!

#ProductDevelopment #FodTechnology #ShelfLife #Packaging

Published by Valia Christidou

I have worked with, enjoyed, created and loved food all my life. https://www.linkedin.com/in/valia-christidou-94b1277a/ https://twitter.com/itsonlybiscuit1 https://twitter.com/valiastweet?lang=en https://www.instagram.com/itsonlybiscuits/

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