Keys to Reduce Food Waste & Extend Ingredient Shelf Life

Extending Shelf Life with Whey ProteinThe United States discards more food than any other country in the world. Grocery stores in the U.S. throw out about 30% of the food on their shelves each year because of spoiled products or those that have surpassed their sell-by dates, equating to 16 billion pounds. That’s an immense amount of waste, and it doesn’t include food thrown out by restaurants and consumers.

Annually, each American consumer wastes more than $218 billion worth of food. Combined, America throws out between 30–40% of its entire food supply, making up the single largest component in landfills.

With 50 million Americans experiencing food insecurities, imagine what all that food and money could do!

Most Common Perishable Foods

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, products containing eggs, milk, cream, cheese and other dairy ingredients are among the many perishable items found in dumpsters. In fact, dairy products are the food item that is thrown out the most

Whether in dressings, baked goods, refrigerated dips, snacks, soups, sauces or even frozen entrees and ice cream, the use of perishable ingredients can significantly shorten a product’s shelf life, leading stores and restaurants to think twice about offering them to customers.

Many food manufacturers already find it challenging to address consumer demands for improved nutrition (low fat and calories) and better-for-you ingredients (free from artificial additives) without compromising signature flavors and mouthfeel. Producers experience many of the same challenges as grocery stores by having to manage ingredient inventories to minimize food waste in manufacturing. Add to that the growing scrutiny over tracking expiration dates and consumer awareness over minimizing food waste, and the challenge becomes even greater.

Solutions of the Past Don’t Meet Modern Consumer Demands

Take, for example, a dairy cream filling or cream pie. Without preservatives, a baked good containing a traditional cream filling will last only about 3–4 days in the refrigerated section. The use of some chemical preservatives can extend its shelf life anywhere from 4–15 times as much — sometimes even longer!

But consumers are shying away from artificial additives and laundry lists of ingredients they can’t pronounce.

Formulating applications with eggs, cream and other traditional dairy products also presents a challenge in the freezer section. Many natural ingredients do not withstand the freeze-thaw cycle, resulting in drastic viscosity loss, poor textures and off-flavors.

By now every food manufacturer knows that clean labels and healthy nutrition are atop the latest food and beverage trends list, and those that relied upon artificial preservatives to maximize a product’s shelf life are looking for ways to reformulate. Yet, using fresh dairy and eggs proves too costly and contributes to the growing problem of food waste, compromising many sustainability initiatives.

Shelf-Stable Natural Alternatives to Traditional Ingredients

Stores and restaurants have limited shelf space to begin with, and they want to stock products that can stay on those shelves for as long as possible while still offering their customers the natural flavors and ingredients they’ve come to expect as part of the clean label movement.

Are you producing products to address those pain points? Replacing some or all of the fresh dairy products with an alternative ingredient that is both natural and shelf-stable for longer periods of time can help you extend ingredient freshness.

If keeping your products all-natural and improving sell-by dates on products are among your top formulation challenges, several forms of whey protein are a viable solution. Long shelf life dairy products like whey protein concentrate can replace or reduce the need for expensive and perishable ingredients such as milk products, cream, butter, cream cheese and eggs, require no refrigeration and are freeze-thaw stable.

Whey food’s functionality and versatility in applications are superior to that of commodity whey protein and it can be used in multiple applications to significantly reduce fat and calorie counts while simultaneously cleaning up labels. Too often, one is compromised in pursuit of the other. Adding to its appeal is Grande Custom Ingredient Group’s strict chain of custody that ensures ethical sourcing and sustainability, and also helps overcome supply chain disruption.

Consumers are already familiar with whey supplements and whey protein isolates for their ability to help with weight loss, muscle growth and recovery of connective tissues due to high protein levels and other nutrients, so adding other forms of whey protein to a formulation are readily accepted.

Food manufacturers and the foodservice industry can play a major role in reducing food waste by extending the shelf lives of the products they produce, yet we know that reformulating a tried-and-true recipe using whey protein powder may sound overwhelming.

We can help. The food scientists at Grande Custom Ingredients Group are eager to take on your biggest formulation challenge and demonstrate just how smooth of a transition it can be — and how this one simple change can considerably improve your product’s quality, nutrition and bottom line.

Reach out to us today to discuss the possibilities, and learn about additional benefits of using functional whey protein in your applications by downloading the tip sheet below.

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