Leveraging aseptic technology to meet changing consumer demands

Consumers in the U.S. and Canada are being more strategic with their food and beverage purchases. They’re looking for milk and plant-based beverages with value-added benefits that can deliver on flexibility, product diversity and convenience. And their desire for sustainability and purpose-driven products continues to grow.

These trends are increasing pressure on brands to produce a wider assortment of products in a more sustainable manner and deliver them to consumers via multiple channels. However, catering to these consumer demands brings a new set of production challenges: added ingredients and finding the right process treatment for those ingredients; increased production complexity; and the need to diversify product options, all while managing costs.  

Food and beverage manufacturers should look for technology solutions that will give them flexibility to create the products consumers are looking for — now and in the future. Take a look at three dairy and plant-based beverage trends we’re seeing at Tetra Pak and learn how our technology and expertise can help food and beverage brands deliver on these ever-evolving consumer demands.

Flavored milk in a glass

Tapping into health and well-being

Now more than ever, people are focused on taking control of their physical and mental health, which means they are purchasing products that will help them achieve these goals. In fact, 77% of consumers said they want to do more to stay healthy in the future according to ADM’s Outside Voice research. The study also found that 18% of U.S. consumers purchased plant-based food and beverage products for the first time during the pandemic, and nearly all of them (92%) plan to continue buying these products.

Consumers have a wide range of physical and mental health goals and are looking for a variety of food and beverage products that cater to specific needs. According to consumers reflecting on their own habits over the past year, 28% are eating more protein from plant sources. The challenge for dairy and plant-based beverage producers is to figure out how to optimize their production process in order to create these customized, value-added products.

Aseptic processing systems offer improved flexibility, allowing dairy and plant-based beverage manufacturers to produce highly specialized products that may have smaller — yet growing — niche audiences. And thanks to the extended shelf life of aseptic products, they can also be shipped longer distances. This means fewer factories are needed in different locations, ensuring products are delivered before they spoil, which saves costs for producers.

Tetra Pak® Aseptic Dosing equipment can help brands achieve proper ingredient dosing after their product has gone through ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment, where the product is heated to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria and then immediately cooled. Dosing is particularly useful for adding ingredients such as prebiotics, botanical extracts, vitamins and omega 3s. Dosing these value-add ingredients after the UHT treatment helps maintain their quality. If taste profile is a focus, our Tetra Therm® Aseptic VTIS features an injection system that delivers UHT treatment with a small, controlled heat load. This technology helps achieve a flavor profile similar to pasteurized white milk in an aseptic package.

Other value-add beverages such as protein shakes or oat milk require equipment capable of mixing the product while maintaining its integrity. The Tetra Pak® High Shear Mixer ensures thorough mixing for consistent formulations. We design our systems to ensure they deliver the highest quality product with the best taste profile. 

Pregnant woman holding glass of milk

Providing flexibility for the supply chain and consumers

Consumer demand for a wider variety of specialty beverages is placing greater pressure on the supply chain, from production lines to distribution channels and more. As a result, producers must be increasingly agile and flexible with their production and distribution strategies. In July 2020, data analytics company Inmar Intelligence studied more than 300 people and their grocery shopping habits during the pandemic. Since March 2020, 79% of the polled participants said they now shop for groceries online instead of in person, compared with 57% before the pandemic.

Aseptic products like milk and plant-based beverages can be a game changer for e-commerce because they can be shipped from a distribution center without the need for chilled transportation. Distribution methods such as direct business-to-consumer, e-retailers and marketplace hubs are a few common e-commerce channels available for consideration. Because different delivery methods may increase stress on a product, it’s important to understand how to optimize products and packages for this process.

Tetra Pak has the expertise, portfolio and services to optimize production for omnichannel distribution. Whether a customer is interested in modifying their current facility to an aseptic one or looking for support with a new omnichannel strategy, we can help our customers meet those needs.

Flavored milk rose

Delivering on sustainability and purpose

Consumers continue to show growing interest in supporting mission-driven brands. A 2020 global study conducted by the Zeno Group found that 94% of consumers said they prioritized supporting purpose-driven companies. For food and beverage brands, this focus adds increased urgency to optimize the sustainability of their production and packaging methods.  

At the core of Tetra Pak’s business is our founder’s belief that “a package should save more than it costs.” Today, Tetra Pak brings global, end-to-end expertise in minimizing their customers’ environmental impact. We design food and beverage processing equipment to reduce resource usage and waste. Tetra Pak® Services offers best practices to improve factory operations, ranging from productivity and cost savings to realizing sustainability benefits, such as lower emissions and less waste.

For end-use consumers, our cartons offer several environmental benefits. On average, 70% of a Tetra Pak® carton is paperboard, a renewable, plant-based material. Sugarcane-based plastics are also available for certain applications. In addition to minimizing our reliance on fossil-based fuels, plant-based renewable resources capture carbon dioxide as they grow back, minimizing carbon emissions. Tetra Pak has earned certifications from both the Forest Stewardship Council® and Bonsucro® for responsible sourcing of these materials. Once used, cartons can be recycled, giving them second lives as paper products and green building materials.

Tetra Pak’s portfolio of end-to-end solutions can help set food and beverage products apart. Beyond sustainable packaging, we provide customers with our industry expertise in sustainable processing and plant management practices.

So, what’s next?

Given the growth in consumer demand for more functional, purpose-driven and specialized products, now is a prime opportunity for brands to refresh their dairy and plant-based beverage portfolio.

Leveraging aseptic technology can accommodate consumers’ desire for sustainable, value-added products that deliver health benefits. Aseptic products are also well-suited for distribution via a variety of channels. Tetra Pak has the global experience and industry insights to offer the expertise, services and support needed to capitalize on these market trends and achieve production ambitions.

 

Nutrition sport drink

Beverages for better health

Functional dairy beverages can function as a shortcut to increased wellbeing. And to produce drinks that help boost immunity, relieve stress or improve digestive health, no technology is more suitable than UHT.

Plant based drink

Moving into plant-based?

The plant-based product category is becoming increasingly popular around the world – and is expected to grow by double digits over the coming years. Here’s a few pointers to producers looking into plant-based beverages.

Four different types of flavored milk drinks

Take the flexibility route to success

On an ever-changing market, flexibility is key. To stay relevant to consumers, producers need to be able to move fast, try out new recipes and produce small batches in a cost-efficient way. And with a UHT line in place, expanding a product portfolio may actually be much easier and more straightforward than you think.

Girl holding glass of milk

Get in touch

Want to discuss your ideas? Or learn more about the possibilities of UHT technology? Just drop us a note, and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.