These two companies were among many that gathered for the first meeting of the Profitable Shelf Life (Lønnsom holdbarhet) network at the end of April. The aim is to get to know others in the food industry, draw on each other’s experience and gain useful knowledge from current research. All participating companies will be working in parallel on cases in their own businesses.
Anne Flaten Løvås of Synnøve Finden has chosen grated cheese as her company’s case.
“Mouldy cheese would certainly ruin anyone’s Saturday pizza. It’s not a big problem for us, but we know that if it does happen it is very unpleasant for the customer. Usually everything is fine, but the cheese can sometimes go mouldy. The main reason is exposure to air, which can happen if the packaging is not fully airtight. Even though we are among the best in the industry, there might always be one or two bags in a thousand that leak, allowing air in. We therefore wish to do more work on this, so that none of our customers will be disappointed by having their Saturday pizza ruined. The problem often arises in the weld,” says Anne Flaten Løvås of Synnøve Finden.
A known issue
“This is a well known issue for foods with a long shelf life and ‘best before’ label,” says Hans Blom of Nofima. “Mould must have oxygen to survive. If there is a leak in the pack, you cannot necessarily measure the oxygen inside because the mould uses up the oxygen. That means it can be difficult to discover there is mould until the cheese goes green,” he says.
Solving the nut riddle
The Brynhild Group’s Den Lille Nøttefabrikk has chosen to look at how they can avoid rancid nuts. The aim is a more stable shelf life and fewer complaints.
“Nuts are a natural product and we cannot stop there being one or two rancid ones among the many. But what we can do something about are other conditions that affect rancidity. Three things in particular have an effect: light, oxygen and salt,” say Nils Olav Jørgensen and Sidsel Erlingsen from the Brynhild Group.
By taking part in the network, Den Lille Nøttefabrikken hopes to draw on the experience of other participants and to get advice and help from Nofima with shelf life analyses, for example.
“Resources have been allocated within the network to allow 2 or 3 days direct assistance to companies,” adds Berit Foss Hille of Nofima.
New equipment to measure quality
Another participating company is TimeTemp, one of the companies formed with assistance from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås. The company has developed shelf life indicators that could replace traditional date labelling on products that are sensitive to temperature. Such an indicator could help the industry to store foods more correctly, thus avoiding having to throw away good food.
“The quality of a food product depends on both how long it is kept and the temperature in which it is kept. Our shelf life indicator tells you if a food has become bad. I hope our knowledge can be of use to the companies taking part in this network,” says Peder Oskar Andersen of TimeTemp.
The Profitable Shelf Life network was fully subscribed almost as soon as it was announced. In fact network leader Kjersti Trømborg received so many applications that the network has been divided into two groups, by size. One network comprises the Brynild Group, Nortura, Rieber & Søn, Stabburet, Synnøve Finden, TimeTemp and TINE. The other network includes GourmetCompagniet, Haugen Gardsmat, Hitramat, Meråker Kjøtt, Skreppa Morgedal and Smedstuen Gård. This second group will have its first meeting in June.
“We have clearly hit on a topic that many companies are concerned about. There has been considerable focus on food waste and shelf life labelling recently. The speed with which companies have joined shows that the industry is on the offensive and is focusing on shelf life and quality,” says Kjersti Trømborg of Nofima Mat.