Modified Atmosphere Packaging: Small-Scale Options

Posted by David Anderson on

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century modified atmosphere packaging has become the most prominent packaging strategy in the food industry. From meat, produce, cheese, and baked goods, to hops, cannabis, potato chips, and coffee, modified atmosphere packaging has slowly become the go-to method for preserving food, extending its shelf-life, and maintaining its appearance.

While modified atmosphere packaging may be the best packaging strategy currently being practiced, to implement it properly with the required infrastructure does require large upfront capital investment. While this is often not an issue for food companies who are already producing and packaging at a large scale, it does become an issue— often a deal-breaking obstacle— for smaller companies, especially for smaller companies in emerging markets whose forecasting models are less robust and whose growth projections are higher-variance and given to greater volatility.

A good example of one such industry is the cannabis industry. While the cannabis industry can greatly benefit from the implementation of modified atmosphere packaging— and many of the larger cannabis producers are already benefiting from it— many of them are still running at a scale too small to warrant the large capital investment required to implement a modified atmosphere packaging system. While this may sound like bad news for small cannabis producers— as well as coffee and hop producers— there are alternative ways of getting into modified atmosphere packaging without breaking the bank and implementing a complete infrastructure overhaul.

Enter the O2 Absorber 

When modified atmosphere packaging is mentioned, often the image that comes into people’s minds is the sight of an army of gas tanks hooked up to a series of massive, monolithic packaging machines via a series of pipes and tubes. While this can be a reality in many facilities where MAP is utilized, it is not a strict requirement. Basically, modified atmosphere packaging is simply the process of modifying the atmosphere in a package. Obvious enough, you may say, but when put this way, some of the fear and grandiosity that comes from thinking about a large MAP system disappears.

At Bridge Analyzers we help a lot of customers who have large scale MAP packaging systems in place, and that’s great, but after talking with some smaller companies who wanted to implement MAP into their production process but couldn’t due to cost, we began to think of alternatives.

One such alternative for modifying the atmosphere in packages that does not require large scale infrastructure or equipment, is simply sticking an O2 absorber in a package and then using one of our analyzers to test for residual oxygen.

Putting an O2 absorber in a package doesn’t sound like classic MAP to most people, but, in reality that’s exactly what it is. By putting the O2 absorber in the package, you are modifying the atmosphere in that package, and thus are now implementing a less expensive variation of modified atmosphere packaging. This solution is inexpensive, simple, and delivers the same benefits as classic MAP.

If you are a small cannabis, hop, or coffee producer who is not yet ready to invest in large, expensive packaging infrastructure, but who still wants to get the benefits of modified atmosphere packaging now, then give us a call to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals now and in the future.