Vacuum packaging vs Modified Atmosphere

Posted on 16 January 2019

Both vacuum packaging and Modified Atmosphere packaging can extend shelf life for your product and preserve its freshness. Although both techniques reduce the oxygen concentration inside the packaging, they both have their pros and cons, depending on the product.

Airtight Vacuum Packaging

With vacuum packing, most air is removed from the packaging, after which it is hermetically sealed to maintain the vacuum. This technique protects the contents from oxidation, as well as slowing down the oxidation process. It prevents the buildup of moisture and inhibits the growth of oxygen-dependent micro organisms and reproduction of insects.

Vacuum packed food products retain their quality and freshness for a longer time, increasing the shelf life. Other benefits of this technique, is that it allows to fix the product in a certain position and a reduction of the packaging volume, which has great benefits for transport and storage.

Even though most gas is pumped out, a certain amount of oxygen will remain in vacuum packaging. It is not possible to create a total vacuum. Air contains around 21 percent oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure (1000 millibar). By withdrawing air, the pressure in the package is reduced. This means that even when the pressure inside packaging is reduced to 10 millibars, there still will be an equivalent of 0.21 % oxygen at atmospheric pressure present inside the packaging.

Tailor-made Modified Atmosphere Packaging

The technique of Modified Atmosphere Packaging differs from vacuum packaging in that it doesn’t necessarily remove oxygen from the packaging. A modified atmosphere is created by adjusting oxygen and CO2 levels within the packaging to the desired value. This means it is possible to compose a tailor-made atmosphere to maximize shelf life for specific products. Modified Atmosphere packages are also hermetically sealed, preventing the modified atmosphere from changing.

This technique is used to maximize shelf life since it prevents pest development, inhibits growth of micro-organisms and protects against oxidation processes. It also keeps dry products safe from unwanted moisture development.

Modified atmosphere below 1% oxygen

Thanks to the combination of our high-quality Big Bags and our state of the art equipment, we can reach and maintain oxygen levels below 1%.

Our FIBCs are extremely airtight, which allows us to create a deep vacuum. In the next step of the process, we flush the bag with nitrogen back to atmospheric pressure. 

For quality control and management, Masterpack is developing a technique in which sensors in the packaging measure the levels of gases within the bags. All without making any punctures in the package, providing real-time data in a safe way. 

Endurance tests in our R&D center have shown that we are able to stay below this 1 percent, even after 6 months. When the Big Bags are handled and filled according to the guidelines, we can guarantee these levels for almost any product. 

The pro’s and cons

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is the more versatile of the two techniques. Where vacuum packaging has a limited range of options, MAP can be totally adjusted to the particular products.  

The chosen technique also influences the presentation of the product. Vacuum packaging can distort the appearance of the product when the packaging material forms itself airtight around the product.

Curious about how Modified Atmosphere packaging can improve your supply chain management? Here at Masterpack, your product is our concern. Contact us to learn more about our innovative packaging techniques!

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