Ready-to-eat foods are some of the most popular products on the market, owing to their variety, convenience, ease of preparation, and their typically longer shelf life. These are the foods that busy people often rely on in our fast-paced, demanding, and often hectic modern world. From party favorites like salsa, dips, hummus, and other spreads to full meals, RTE products span many different categories. This makes RTE a unique category, in that it is defined more by its functional characteristics – portability, ease of preparation, etc. – than by food type.
High pressure processing is perfectly suited to many RTE foods, as it excels at the exact requirements that make RTE foods valuable to customers, from flavor retention to safety to extended shelf life and beyond. This is one of the many reasons that HPP is set to grow significantly in the near future, as RTE is one of the widest ranging, most versatile categories in the food marketplace.
Most consumers eat RTE foods every day. In fact, many people rely very heavily on them, eating them multiple times a day. Yet it’s not a category that the average consumer ever really thinks about.
As convenient as these foods are, there are certain challenges that come along with many of them as well. Some RTE foods, like cereal, are naturally shelf stable, and don’t need any special processing to delay spoilage or remain safe to eat. For many foods, however, this is not the case. Contamination and spoilage can be real issues for many RTE foods.
Certain popular, nutritious foods, like hummus and guacamole, can be difficult to distribute beyond the manufacturer’s immediate geographical region because of spoilage issues. The conundrum has always been that adding preservatives or using traditional processing methods to fight spoilage can significantly change the sensory characteristics of the product or damage customers’ view of the product as healthy and nutritious. And even if the issue of shelf life is accounted for, there is always the concern that these foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria or other microorganisms, like listeria, e coli, salmonella, and many others. These contamination issues present serious threats to public health, can badly damage your brand’s image, and can cause massive and costly food recalls.
High pressure processing takes care of all of these issues in one simple, final step, as the product is treated in its packaging. Best of all, HPP is appropriate for a wide range of RTE foods, including entrees (with or without meat or seafood), soups, wet salads (such as pasta salads), many types of dressings, and snack foods like the aforementioned hummus, guacamole, and other fresh dips.
Ready to eat foods are a great category to be involved in right now, as they potentially offer so many benefits to the modern consumer and fit their needs and desires on many levels. Their convenience and versatility make them a natural fit for people’s busy lifestyles. But as with any opportunity, there are always challenges to meeting customers’ needs. Let HPP help you offer the best RTE products possible.