The report , by research company Future Market Insights (FMI), reveals how the preference for natural, organic and clean-label foods are being leveraged by natural preservative companies.
They are in turn are reaping the rewards of clean labelling that clearly states the use of natural preservatives.
Food manufacturers in particular are riding this wave of health with a rethink of how they use artificial flavours and preservatives. Last year, General Mills announced it would remove all artificial flavours from its breakfast cereals, which led Nestle to follow suit.
Nandini Roy Choudhury, food and beverage consultant at FMI, told us: “Consumers are getting more customary in making fact-based judgments. They’re more likely to prefer healthy products with convincing evidence on green labelling.”
Artificial is still big - but declining
Artificial preservatives are the largest segment in the food preservatives market globally accounting for 87% of the total market revenue share in 2013-14. However, it is expected to lose its market share by 2020 owing to the industry-wide trend of natural and organic.
On the other hand, natural preservatives accounted for 12.9% market share in 2013-14, and this is expected to increase to 13.6% by 2020. According to the report, the overall food preservatives market is projected to expand at a 3.5% CAGR in terms of value before 2020.
Making the change
However, it is not easy to switch from artificial to all natural. Key to making a successful transition is the response of consumers, who are used to a long product shelf-life and pleasant tasting food that natural preservatives may struggle to deliver.
“Regardless of enhanced food properties, artificial ingredients are a major concern among consumers,” Choudhury said. “Manufacturers are in a challenging position as they need to balance the demand of natural or no-preservative, while considering the implications of reducing preservatives and additives which can accelerate spoilage rate and reduce shelf life.”
Choudhury believed that manufacturers will have to bank on technology to compensate for the drawbacks of using natural preservatives. Technologies such as high pressure processing (HPP) and pulsed electric fields (PEF) are said to enhance the safety of food products.
HPP has established itself as a viable, non-thermal, and additive-free preservation technology with a number of applications in the food industry. The process is a cold pasteurisation technique which sees food subjected to high pressures equivalent to 60 km under the ocean. Proponents say it avoids use of additives and heat treatment.
In a similar vein, PEF uses a high voltage electric pulse to perforate the cell wall of a raw material. This breakdown of the cell’s barrier function enables the structure of the material to be modified or effectively kill certain microbes.
In contrast, conventional processing techniques such as pasteurisation lose the natural, fresh traits associated with the raw ingredients of plant origin. New techniques, like HPP and PEF, claim to extend shelf-life without compromising these characteristics, and are therefore desirable.
The report identified the demand for bakery products, beverages, meat and dairy products as having a positive impact on the food preservatives market. Among these, the meat, poultry and sea food segment leads the food preservatives market and is expected to do so in the coming years.
However, the report predicted the share of the meat, poultry and sea food market would drop to 27.3% in 2020 from 27.9% in 2013. The use of food preservatives in oils and fats, jams and syrups, was also anticipated to witness a 4.1% CAGR during the forecast period.
North America was identified as the region currently dominating the food preservative industry, with a 36.5% value share in the food preservatives market in 2013. The report expected this lead to continue in the coming years.
While Asia Pacific was identified as following a similar trend, Choudhury believed growth might be restrained by more stringent regulations.
“Various food preservatives are currently banned in different part of the world which is acting as a barrier for the food preservatives market. The impact of this restraint is high at present and it is expected to remain so in the next few years,” he said.
“Developing countries that do not have strong government regulations are expected to witness higher demand for preservatives in the future. It is expected that FDA policies could be revised in the next decade.”