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Bringing Freshness to Life in Packaged Foods

Time-pressed consumers sometimes must compromise on their desire for fresh food preparation. Packaged foods can fill the gap, but in order to become staples in the homes of consumers they must deliver satisfaction on all fronts.

While refrigerated foods, shelf-stable goods and frozen products help dinner come together easily between grocery store runs, they must deliver satisfaction. Key areas crucial for success of a product include factors that influence consumers’ perception, sensory signals to avoid, how flavors imply freshness, ingredient stability, trending clean-label ingredients, and more.

But bringing freshness to life in packaged foods is not an easy task, and manufacturers must understand the trade-offs the consumer is willing to consider. Will a great tasting product meeting or exceeding all their expectations about nutrition and other claims (gluten-free, vegan, organic, etc.) trump a food that is perceived as fresh but not delivering on those attributes?

Ingredion has been focusing on developing consumer knowledge and product solutions to bring freshness to the products. “We have done extensive consumer research to understand what consumers want and desire. Today they seek products that are fresher, less processed, homestyle and made with fewer and simpler ingredients," said Agnes Lapinska, marketing manager, savory, Ingredion. The company’s proprietary research reveals strategies for products found in the center of the store. Chief among those strategies are improving fresh perception; changing packaging to offer a modern and enticing look and feel; stating product benefits; and reformulating for a clean label.

Freshness is a matter of perception and visual clues belie a product’s fresh appeal. Color is impacted in meat and poultry items in refrigerated and frozen foods subject to oxidation. Oil separation may occur during storage. Frozen foods may have visible ice crystals.

Polly Barrett, director of product applications and sensory - Americas, Kalsec Inc., suggests defining your gold standard for freshness. “Make sure your product is as similar to that as possible at the end of shelf life."

Consumers seek products that are fresher, less processed, homestyle and made with fewer and simpler ingredients. Product location, shelf life, claims, ingredients and packaging all come together to influence consumers’ perception of prepared foods.

Review the latest ingredients being used in packaged foods and discover formulation strategies for a successful product launch in INSIDER’s Packaged Foods Digital Magazine.

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