Convenient, natural foods affect preservative sales

by Jeff Gelski
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SURREY, UNITED KINGDOM — Emerging markets and demand for convenient foods are driving sales of food preservatives while the demand for more “natural” products is having both positive and negative effects on sales, according to the report “Current and Future Trends in Food Preservatives” published in September by Surrey-based Leatherhead Food Research. Sales of food preservatives had an annual average growth rate of 1.3% from 2006 to 2010, rising to $1,350 million from $1,275 million, according to the report.

Continued growth in the convenience and chilled food categories has led to a growing demand for products that increase shelf life, according to the report. Convenient “on-the-go” products include chilled/fresh sandwiches, wraps and salads. Opportunities also are arising in economies such as China, Brazil, India and Russia because of population increases. In addition, rising levels of disposable income are driving demand for value-added processed products.

Consumer demand for natural food and drink products has led to demand for organic preservatives.

“On the one hand, increased demand for ‘natural’ products is helping to drive growth of organic preservatives as manufacturers seek natural alternatives to synthetic varieties,” the report said. “On the other hand, however, this change in consumer attitudes is as much an anti-synthetic issue as it is a pro-natural one, and this is largely due to perceived health and safety concerns over consuming synthetic ingredients.”

Some companies promote how they use no preservatives in products. New product launches with claims of no additives/preservatives made up 16% of total new product launches in 2010.

Switching from synthetic preservatives may bring challenges as well.

“When it comes to ‘natural solutions,’ there is a real need to understand the ingredient and each application on an individual basis,” the report said. “There are only a few natural antimicrobials that can be used as direct replacements for existing synthetics since they are either not as effective, prove to be too costly, have adverse sensory characteristics or have a significant effect upon the quality of the food product.”

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