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Latest trends of aseptic packaging for tomato processors

06/11/2023 - Press release
The Aseptic Bag Manufacturers Association (ABMA) represents (European) manufacturers of aseptic bags for industry, foodservice and catering. The association focuses on promoting the development of the aseptic bag packaging market, exchanging technical information, standards, collecting information on laws and regulations and representing at national and international level in important areas of interest to members and their customers.
Nadia Pante, ABMA representative, presented the 
Latest trends of aseptic packaging for tomato processors 
during the 2023 Tomato News Conference in Parma on 27 October 2023  


The ABMA supports the industry with the following tasks 
  •  Formulating guidelines concerning process conditions and the utilisation of aseptic bags. These recommendations are intended for the members to offer to their customers, ensuring the proper and effective use of these bags.
  • Encourage the exchange of technical insights among the member companies, with the aim of establishing a unified framework and standardisation for aseptic bag specifications. This collaborative effort tries to especially achieve an optimised utilisation of raw materials in this context.
  • Collection of information on current legislation and regulations about the use of aseptic bags, as well as on their end-of-life.
  • Acting as a representative voice for the industry, articulating the collective stance of the associations manufacturers when engaging with external institutions and organisations in the aseptic packaging sector. This includes collaborating with entities involved in filling equipment manufacturing, transport packaging, and the supply of raw materials.
  • ABMA advocates for the interests and concerns of our members by liaising with various national and international authorities and institutions. They actively bring the perspective of European aseptic bag manufacturers whenever it is meaningful.
 Enhancing Tomato Freshness and Quality: The Advantages of Aseptic Bags
The world of food packaging is constantly evolving, driven by the need to extend shelf life, ensure product safety, and reduce environmental impact. One of the innovations and hidden champions that has gained significant attention in recent years is the use of aseptic bags for packaging processed tomatoes. Aseptic bags offer a unique set of advantages that can help preserve the freshness, flavour, and nutritional value of tomatoes shortly after the harvest, making them a preferred choice for both industrial and private consumers and producers alike.
What are Aseptic Bags?

Aseptic bags are specialized packaging solutions designed to maintain the quality and shelf life of perishable products, such as tomatoes. They are constructed from multiple layers of high-quality materials that provide a barrier against light, oxygen, and external contaminants. This technology allows processed tomatoes to be packaged in a sterile environment, ensuring that they are free from harmful microorganisms while preserving their natural attributes. Aseptic bags enable transportation at ambient temperatures without any additional cooling thus saving energy.
Aseptic bags are used for drums (made of plastic or metal intended for drum pumps) for the food industry and for bags with dispensing systems or bag-in-boxes for the hotel, restaurant, catering or food industry. A wide range of different sizes is offered for the food industry or industrial applications, covering every conceivable application....
For industrial use, aseptic bags are also available for IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container), a rigid, composite or semi-rigid container with a large volume designed for bulk handling, transport and storage of liquids, semi-solids, pastes or solids with a size of 1000 litres and more.
Typical sizes of aseptic bags are:
  • Small Bags up to 30 litres
  • 200 and 220 litres (55 and 60 Gal)
  • 1000 and 1200 litres (300 Gal)
  • 1400 litres (330 Gal)
 Advantages of Aseptic Bags for Tomatoes
  • 1. Extended Shelf Life: Processed tomatoes are highly perishable. Aseptic bags significantly extend their shelf life by creating a protective barrier that minimizes exposure to oxygen and moisture. This helps prevent spoilage, maintaining the freshness and quality of the processed tomatoes for an extended period.
  • 2. Preservation of Nutritional Value: Tomatoes are renowned for their rich nutritional content, including vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and lycopene. However, exposure to air, light, and temperature fluctuations can lead to nutrient degradation. Aseptic bags shield tomatoes from these elements, preserving their nutritional value and ensuring that consumers receive the maximum benefits.
  • 3. Enhanced Flavour and Colour: Aseptic bags maintain the natural flavours and vibrant colours of tomatoes by preventing the oxidation process. This ensures that consumers enjoy tomatoes that taste and look as if they were just harvested, even after extended periods of storage.
  • 4. Reduced Food Waste: Aseptic bags play a crucial role in reducing food waste by minimizing spoilage and extending the usable life of tomatoes. This is especially important considering the global challenges posed by food scarcity and environmental sustainability.
  • 5. Convenient and Safe: Aseptic bags are designed with convenience in mind. They are lightweight, easy to handle, and can be conveniently stored in various environments. Additionally, the aseptic packaging process ensures the elimination of harmful microorganisms, making the packaged tomatoes safe for consumption without the need for preservatives or chemical additives. In addition, there is no need for time-consuming washing and sterilisation of containers, as they can be used again immediately by simply replacing the bags.
  • 6. Environmental Benefits: Aseptic bags have a lower environmental impact compared to some other packaging materials. Their efficient design reduces material waste, and they often require less energy during production and transportation. Furthermore, the extended shelf life of tomatoes packaged in aseptic bags can contribute to reducing food-related carbon emissions.
Applications of Aseptic Bags for Tomatoes
Aseptic bags find applications in various contexts:
  • 1. Food Processing Industry: Aseptic bags are ideal for tomato processors who aim to maintain the quality of their products while optimizing production efficiency. The bags can be used for bulk storage and transportation of tomatoes, reducing the need for preservatives or artificial additives.
  • 2. Food Service: Restaurants, catering services, and other food businesses can benefit from the extended shelf life of tomatoes in aseptic bags. This reduces the need for frequent restocking and ensures that quality ingredients are always available. Especially caterers and restaurants with a high consumption of tomato products (e.g. Italian or Indian Cuisine) appreciate the convenient, hygienically safe and time-saving packaging format of aseptic bags.
  • 3. Retail: Aseptic bags are suitable for retail settings, as they allow for attractive packaging that highlights the freshness and quality of tomatoes. Consumers can conveniently store and use the tomatoes over an extended period.
Aseptic bags have reformed the way tomatoes are packaged and preserved, offering a range of benefits that contribute to freshness, nutritional integrity, and reduced food waste. As consumers become increasingly conscious of the quality and environmental impact of their food choices, the adoption of aseptic bags for tomatoes provides an innovative solution that aligns with these concerns. From extended shelf life to enhanced flavour and colour, these bags are shaping the future of tomato packaging while supporting sustainable practices in the food industry.
Assessing the Environmental Benefits of Flexible Pouches for Food Packaging
A recent study conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu) delves into the environmental advantages of utilizing flexible pouches for certain food products. This study, commissioned by Flexible Packaging Europe, offers insights into the sustainability of packaging options, highlighting the favourable attributes of flexible pouches compared to traditional alternatives like glass jars and steel cans, especially for tomato sauce. The study suggests that flexible pouches offer both environmental benefits and the potential for improvement through enhanced recycling practices.

The research focused on eval
uating the environmental impact of packaging solutions for olives and pasta sauce. The methodology employed a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, accounting for the entirety of the packaging systems, from primary to tertiary packaging. The analysis was based on the European market conditions in the year 2020.
The study's comparative analysis shed light on the advantages of flexible pouches across various impact categories of the LCA. Particularly noteworthy was the category of Climate Change (carbon footprint), where flexible pouches exhibited a reduction of over 60% in environmental impact compared to traditional alternatives like glass jars and steel cans. However, it is important to acknowledge that this trend was not consistent across all categories, as the use of additional cardboard in secondary packaging led to some higher aquatic eutrophication impact.

Frank Wellenreuther, the project manager at ifeu, emphasized the study's findings, stating, "From an environmental viewpoint, the choice of multi-material pouches for the packaging of pasta sauce or olives on the European market is recommended when compared to the alternative packaging systems commonly used. By using LCA techniques it is clearly shown that these flexible packaging formats are less impactful on the environment and their potential can be further enhanced with higher recycling rates."

The results of this study challenge the widely held notion that recycling is the sole determinant of packaging sustainability. It indicates that the end-of-life phase of packaging does not always dominate the overall environmental performance. Although a hypothetical scenario of 100% collection for recycling did have a positive impact on all packaging systems, it did not alter the hierarchy among these systems. Therefore, it emphasises the effectiveness of flexible packaging in reducing environmental impacts. Additionally, the packaging industry is actively involved in improving recycling practices and enhancing the sustainability of flexible packaging. As a result, the adoption of flexible pouches for specific food products, as tomato sauce, not only represents a responsible packaging choice but also aligns with the industry's commitment to a more environmentally friendly future.
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