Modified atmosphere packaging is a technology that extends the storage time of packaged food. The technology helps maintain freshness, nutrition value, color, and appearance of packaged food for a longer period. Modified atmosphere packaging alters the gaseous composition of the air present in a food package. This inhibits the growth of microorganism as well as keeps the color of the food unchanged. Materials with specified level of gas and water vapor permeability are used for modified atmosphere packaging. Usage of modified atmosphere in packaging is beneficial for the food industry. Along with prolonged shelf-life, it improves the visibility and presentation of the packaged food product.
Modified atmosphere packaging ensures maintenance of an optimal balance of gaseous components such as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide in the package. Higher concentration of oxygen in a food package promotes the growth of aerobic microorganisms. This leads to oxidative deterioration of food. Therefore, the oxygen level is lowered in modified atmosphere packaging. Ratio of nitrogen and carbon dioxide is increased in modified atmosphere packaging to reduce the pH level, which exhibits bacteriostatic and fungistatic activities in preserved food.
Nitrogen and carbon dioxide also helps retain the color of meat by preventing the oxidation of red and pink pigments present in meat. Myoglobin is the protein present in tissues of meat. It is responsible for the color of meat. Different composition of gaseous constituents, materials, and technologies are used in modified atmosphere packaging depending on the type of fresh and processed food (such as fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat products, and dairy products).
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Demand for packaged food has increased significantly in the last few years due to higher consumer awareness about healthy food products and improvement in lifestyle. Subsequently, the modified atmosphere packaging market experienced rapid growth in developed countries in the recent past. North America dominated the global modified atmosphere packaging market in 2014. The region is anticipated to account for large market share in the next few years. Europe and Asia Pacific also held significant market share 2014.
This trend is estimated to continue in these regions in the near future. Asia Pacific is likely to be emerging market in the near future owing to rapid urbanization and increased per capita income in the region. The modified atmosphere packaging market in the developing countries of Asia Pacific is projected to expand at the fastest rate during the forecast period. The modified atmosphere packaging market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa us also likely to expand at a significant rate in the near future.