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  • QA 163
    Question:
    Why vacuum-pack coffee?
    Background:
    What are the real advantages of vacuum packing and how to generate demand for this type of product?
    Asked by:
    Student - Madagascar
    Answer:

    Simply put, roast and ground coffee is vacuum packed to preserve quality, thereby extending its shelf life.

    Taste and aroma are lost rapidly in the presence of oxygen and so vacuum packing was developed to avoid loss of quality in coffee that is unlikely to be consumed soon after roasting. There are two ways of doing this:

    • Evacuate the air, and thus also the oxygen, altogether. This produces the so-called 'bricks' or hard packages of roast and ground coffee that easily and neatly fit in cartons for transportation;
    • Replace the air with any neutral type of gas, usually nitrogen. This produces a 'soft' package, best suited for roasted beans, often fitted with a non-return valve. This allows additional gas, naturally discharged by the beans, to escape when pressure builds.

    Both these methods rely on the use of correct packaging material. The packages must be able to guarantee that freshness, aroma and quality are well maintained over long periods. And, the packaging material should not cause any taste changes to the coffee.

    Marketing advantages include: improved longevity of the retail product; ease of handling and transportation; pictures and marketing messages can be printed onto the packaging material; and vacuum-packs are easily displayed on counters because they usually are free-standing.

    But perhaps the most important aspect for a country as your own, Madagascar, is that also retailers in far-away, not easily accessible locations can stock and offer a product whose quality can be guaranteed over relatively long periods of time.

    There are many manufacturers of vacuum packaging equipment and materials whose websites are relatively easily traced on the Internet. But, to assist, here is a random selection: www.all-fill.com; www.calini.it; www.generalpackaging.com; www.quality-packaging.com;

    Posted 31 August 2007.

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