Aseptic cold filling is a technology that allows product to be supplied without preservatives to avoid microbiological contamination. It involves separate sterilisation of the product, bottles or cartons, and their closures. The sterilised product is then packaged in a sealed-off sterile environment and the container sealed under aseptic conditions.
The German ingredients firm has had aseptic capabilities since 2002 for its flavour systems – that is, semi-finished beverage mixes to which the manufacturer need only add water, sugar and acid.
But it has recently added a new aseptic filling line at its plant in Heidelberg; while the company would not disclose what the new capacity is, a spokesperson told FoodNavigator.com that it can now fulfil order requests even between April and August – that is, the warmer season when there tends to be more consumption of beverages.
The development is significant since there is a major drive in the industry to meet consumer preferences for products that do not contain preservatives.
Mintel’s Global New Products Database lists 2755 new launches in Europe in the last three years of beverage products claiming to be preservative-free. Brands launching preservative-free drinks recently include Los Lunis in Spain, Ockakoya Kyasenok in Russia, San Benedetto in Italy, Almata’s Biopom in France, and Red Bull Simply Cola in Hungary.
The spokesperson for Wild said that in the past, flavour systems carried some preservatives so as to give higher microbial safety if the customer wanted to use the container several times.
While these small amounts of preservatives did not have to be labelled on the finished product, it was not possible to label the products as being ‘preservative-free’.
But because of its aseptic technology use, Wild has found that the addition of preservatives is not necessary for the most part.
“If the customer does not ask for a preservative to be added, we do not add it – neither in development nor in production,” said the spokesperson.
He added that the developments by Wild are mirrored by developments on the part of its customers over the last 10 to 15 years, which improve microbial safety at their end.
For instance, discussions with customers revealed that some are using aseptic technology to take the ingredient mix out of the container, some are keeping the mix in cold storage, and some have expanded their operations to such an extent that they now use the whole container in one go.
The customers are still able to re-use the containers without compromising safety, according to Wild.