Microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) could potentially have a significant impact on the packaged foods and beverages sector, as global consumers are increasingly choosing prepared foods, according to leading data and analytics company GlobalData.
The company’s report, ‘Microwave-Assisted Thermal Sterilization Food Processing Technology’ states that enhanced quality and sensory benefits, preservation without the use of additives or preservatives and shelf-stability are the three main benefits of MATS technology that are attracting interest from foodservice operations as well as food and beverage companies.
The MATS process uses a combination of pressurized hot water and long-wavelength microwave energy to quickly sterilize and store food at room temperature for up to a year. Since the sterilization process is much shorter than the conventional retort process, fewer nutrients are destroyed, and the need for food additives, preservatives and excess sodium is reduced or eliminated.
Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director for GlobalData, explains: “MATS has huge potential in the relatively new direct-to-consumer meal kit business, which works on a subscription model. It could help unleash the potential of meal kit delivery by improving the value proposition through lowered cost and enhanced quality.
“Removing the need for expensive chilled or frozen delivery enables meal kit providers to cut prices and improve value, while convenience is improved by making consumer handling of delivered meal kits less time-sensitive as there is no need to quickly freeze or chill a delivered meal product after delivery.”
According to a GlobalData survey in Q4 2017, value for money and convenience are the top benefits that encourage consumers to use an online subscription service and MATS technology greatly enhances both.
Addressing solid waste issues and extending the reach of meal kits to less affluent consumers are additional factors that could support the adoption of MATS for meal kits.
Vierhile concludes: “Food processed with MATS may be shelf-stable and convenient to store, but convincing consumers that MATS food is as fresh and high-quality as other types of food, like chilled food, may be tricky.”
Analyst available for comment. Please contact the GlobalData Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.