For a sustainable food market, an important step is optimizing the food production processes. The Viennese company Wiegert is working on improving the shelf life of convenience salads. Nowadays, food should taste good and fresh, variety shouldn’t be neglected and preparation should be quick and easy. For these reasons, convenience food, i.e. pre-processed products, has become a staple of modern cuisine – after all, they are above all one thing – long-lasting.
This is where Wiegert Convenience GmbH comes into play. It’s been at home in Vienna’s Donaustadt district for around 60 years and specialises in the production of ready-to-cook vegetable products. Together with the FH Campus Wien (University of Applied Sciences) and the Vienna Food Testing Institute, the family-owned company is looking for ways to improve the convenience of sliced and packaged salads. The aim is to ensure a longer shelf life and usability without compromising quality and taste.
Seven days are the goal
Bernhard Seif is responsible for purchasing and technical management at Wiegert. In an interview he explains how convenience salads can stay fresh longer in the future.
What are the big hurdles to making packed salads stay fresh longer?
Seif: Extending shelf life presents us with challenges in terms of maintaining product quality and safety. To achieve this, we start at various points in the production process. We want to improve the packaging process, for instance, by using specific inert gas atmospheres to prevent the typical brownish discoloration caused by certain enzymes. With the help of various washing water additives, the growth of micro-organisms in the water can be reduced, thus increasing the effectiveness of the washing process.
What are the advantages of a longer shelf life for packaged salads?
Seif: Currently we can only achieve a shelf life of four to five days. This means that a relatively large proportion of these products don’t reach consumers at all. Extending the shelf life to six to seven days gives the supply chain more time to get the products to the point of consumption – i.e. to the table. As a result, less food ends up in waste bins – a benefit with positive effects for us all.
Is this ultimately also more resource-efficient?
Seif: Yes, if less of the product spoils between production and its consumption by consumers, the demand for raw materials should be lower, and consequently less packaging material will be needed. This of course also reduces energy consumption. In addition, the additives mean that the washing water can be used for longer, which considerably reduces the need for that valuable resource – water.
Wiegert Fresh Convenience GmbH
Services by Vienna Business Agency:
- Funded within the program "Production in the city 2019"
- Funded within the program "Sachgüter 2016"
- Funded within the program "Standortinitiative 2015"