Simulation of shelf life – Shelf life prediction and the sizing of packaging

Silver coffee packaging on a pile of brown coffee beans simbolize the prediction on the shelf life of packaged coffee.

Shelf life simulation enables us to predict the shelf life of your products and simultaneously allows us to customize and optimize your product packaging.

Using our modular software we assist you with the development and optimization of packaging systems. Fault diagnosis is also undertaken. Mathematical models for product shelf life provide rapid and comprehensive information, without the need for experimentation, about optimal packaging systems for both technical products and foods. Statistical methods are used to assess the reliability of the shelf life predictions.

Customized, product-specific packaging maximizes the shelf life of a food product

Past research work in the area of food and packaging has enabled us to build up extensive data sets on various quality-determining factors. Using a modular system we are able to combine complex quality-determining factors and so model the shelf life of a food. For simulation modeling we take into account data from a variety of processes including alterations to the intrinsic quality properties (e.g. taste, odor), microbiological processes in the food, processes in the packaging headspace, and the characteristic properties of the packaging material.

Recyclable packaging – Optimized by shelf life simulation

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Our services in the field of shelf life simulation

  • Software based prediction of material transport/permeation through technical films and food packaging

  • Product-specific development and optimization of active packaging systems

What is the shelf life of a given product in specific packaging?

What barrier is required to maximize the shelf life?

Is it worth using active packaging for a product?

Rapid results using software, databases and know-how

Exclusive simulation software developed at the Fraunhofer IVV is used to predict the shelf life of a product. Up-to-date databases and mathematical models are utilized for the simulations.

You specify the requirements for your product and we perform and validate the shelf life simulation. This is able to cover a wide range of packaging scenarios in a short space of time.

Our powerful software is based on a modular principle which can be adapted to your specific requirements. Even when only a small amount of data is available we can make reliable predictions and also determine confidence levels.

Without carrying out complex experiments we are able to answer your questions about the shelf life of a product in a specific packaging system.


Application areas


  • Food packaging, in particular MAP systems

  • Packaging for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products

  • Packaging for technical products

  • Assistance with the selection or redesign of packaging materials

  • Development of new packaging materials, including active packaging systems

  • Planning of transport chains

  • Quality monitoring

Model development and validation for the example of packaged strawberries

In order to predict the shelf life, a theoretical model was developed. The results were compared to simultaneously performed storage tests.

System analysis and modeling

The taste, odor, and appearance of the strawberries were defined as primary quality parameters. The packaging system was incorporated into a mathematical model. This represented all relevant processes as sets of equations. In this example the relevant processes were gas transport through the packaging, the growth of microorganisms, and the respiration of the strawberries.


The experimental storage test showed that the strawberries can be stored for 10 days under the stated conditions. After this time there is a significant increase in the microbial load and the gas composition in the packaging changes. Also, the sensory properties make the product unsuitable for retail.

Comparison of the simulated and experimental results demonstrates that the mathematical model effectively represents the processes in the strawberry packaging (see figure). The model can be adapted at any time for new situations or a similar product.

Simulation and prognosis

Our software allows differing scenarios to be simulated, depending on customer wishes. For example, the storage temperature or the number of perforations can be varied.
The simulations quickly show how these changes influence the quality of the strawberries or the gas composition in the packaging. Prognoses about the shelf life can therefore be quickly acquired.


A similar procedure can be used to develop models for other foods and also for technical products. The exclusive Fraunhofer IVV software is based on a modular principle, allowing customized shelf life prognoses to be obtained for your specific product.