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Preservative perceptions: Consumer demand for natural is serious, but challenges remain

By Nathan Gray+

03-Dec-2013

Industry is listening to the growing consumer demand for natural preservatives, however 'it is very difficult area to get right', says Wayne Morley of Leatherhead Food Research.

Speaking to FoodNavigator at the recent Fi Europe 2013 show in Frankfurt, Morley explained that preservatives are important in our food products in terms of shelf life and quality control.

"But they are generally speaking quite chemical in nature and I think that consumers perceive them to be artificial as a result of that, and would ideally like to see more natural preservatives in their foods," said the Leatherhead innovation manager.

Meeting the demand

Morley noted that while this consumer demand is being taken on by the industry, with several companies "working hard to come up with natural preservative solutions", there are challenges in producing a quality natural preservative.

"Actually I think it's one of those very difficult areas to achieve," he told us. "Preservatives are a class of compounds that actually are very difficult to match the performance of them when you switching from an artificial compound that is very well known, very well characterised and very effective to a natural alternative."

"It is a very difficult area to get right."

Partial substitution

One way that manufacturers can begin to make the step towards natural preservatives may be through partial substitutions, said Morley.

"If you switch from artificial to natural, then you may need to introduce other factors as well to compensate for the relatively poor performance of the natural alternative."

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