Optimization of the quality and shelf life of foods

Various food items are examined in the lab
© iStock.com / AlexRaths

Prolong the shelf life of your products

The demand for natural food products with a high degree of freshness is continuously growing. At the same time, distribution networks are becoming more and more extensive meaning that ever higher requirements are being put on the quality and shelf life of food products.

The identification of product-specific spoiling processes provides the basis for customized measures to prolong the shelf life of foods. We analyze foods for quality changes depending on storage conditions using standard methods for characterization of their physicochemical properties. By carrying out chemical, physical, microbiological, and sensory analyses and mathematical modeling we determine the shelf life of foods.

We also evaluate quality changes and shelf life for cosmetic products and pet food, which is particularly important when the formulation or packaging is changed. From the results, we derive measures for shelf life extension as required.

Our range of services for optimum food shelf life

Determination of the shelf life of foods

We can help you evaluate the influence of product formulation, processing technology, packaging, and storage conditions on the shelf life of foods.


Enhancement of shelf life


We develop and evaluate product-specific measures to prolong shelf life.


Microbiological validation of sterilization methods

We test hygienic and aseptic filling plants for the effectiveness of sterilization processes.

Rapid methods for quality evaluation

Low-cost sensor systems in combination with data anlytical techniques facilitate quick evaluation of food quality.

Shelf life simulation


With our mathematical models, we calculate the product-specific shelf life of packaged foods.


Hygienic production and cleaning

We support you in the development of cleaning systems and the hygienic optimization of your processes and plants.

Determination of the shelf life of foods

Storage tests for shelf life evaluation

The shelf life of a food depends on a variety of factors such as the food composition, degree of processing, the packaging, and storage conditions. Storage tests under relevant practical conditions provide us with key information and enable us to quantify and evaluate the shelf life. We perform chemical, physical, microbiological, and sensory analyses to record changes to key quality parameters. We also determine the factors (formulation, packaging, storage conditions) which affect product-specific spoiling processes.

Mathematical models for rapid shelf life prognosis

Dynamic changes to product quality under different storage conditions are simulated using mathematical models. This simulation utilizes a comprehensive database of analytical results. Using selected key data this enables rapid shelf life prognosis and enables the potential effects of new product compositions and packaging to be determined.  Shelf life simulation

Measures to prolong food shelf life

Customized concepts for prolonged shelf life

When developing customized concepts for prolonged shelf life we take into account the product-specific properties. Depending on the objective we evaluate the effectiveness of functional ingredients and preservation  processes and optimize packaging concepts. We consider all the processing steps, starting with the recipe and ending with storage.

Applied research for longer shelf life

Key aspects of our research on prolonging the shelf life for foods include the evaluation of physical methods for the non-thermal surface sterilization of foods (e.g. cold gas plasma, novel UV sources), the use of antimicrobial plant extracts (e.g. hops) as an alternative to conventional preservatives, and the use of active packaging (e.g. packaging containing oxygen scavengers). In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of these technological strategies we also consider their effect on the product quality in order to identify the optimal process parameters.

Rapid methods for the evaluation of product quality

Quality monitoring along the supply chain

The quality determination of food is of central importance in both production and storage. With increasing digitization, new possibilities are available for this. In order to be able to exploit this potential optimally, powerful and fast measurement methods are required.

Rapid and non-destructive quality determination

In order to measure product quality along the value-creation chain, the Fraunhofer IVV scientists are developing rapid methods based on gas measurement technology as well as optical methods (e.g. IR spectroscopy, image analysis). The aim is to record the quality of a food product in a simple measurement process by using low-cost sensor systems. In combination with data analytical techniques, statements can be made regarding quality, safety and authenticity. This is intended to supplement existing quality assurance and contribute to the reduction of food losses.
Food Scanner

Shelf life & Packaging Act

The new Packaging Act came into force on 1 January 2019. It strengthens environmental protection and thus especially the recyclability of packaging. Make your products durable for a long time even in resource-saving packaging.

Shelf life & trade

International trade brings important economic benefits, but poses major challenges, especially in the food sector. You can also bridge long distribution channels thanks to improved product shelf life.

Shelf life & customer request

Many consumers attach great importance to short, comprehensible lists of ingredients as well as to products that are largely free of additives and preservatives. Offer your customers healthy, natural products with a long shelf life.