New Zealand dairy group Fonterra has developed a unique manufacturing process that could extend the shelf-life of yoghurts containing live and active cultures.
 
The company says the natural process can increase the shelf-life of yoghurt to up to 90 days by killing spoilage yeast and mould, while selectively preserving live and active cultures, including probiotic bacteria.
 
As the nutritional and dietary benefits of yoghurt have become better known, the yoghurt market has grown by over 8% annually for the past three decades, with 58% growth in the last five years alone. But traditional heat treatment methods of creating long-life yoghurt kill off the live and active cultures that give yoghurt many of its potential health benefits.
 
Fonterra said that its new process meets the Codex standard of identity regarding minimal levels of live and active cultures, allowing it to be labelled and sold as fresh yoghurt.
 
"Extending the shelf-life of yoghurt allows producers to exploit any spare capacity to manufacture and distribute products to new, geographically distant markets which would be too difficult to reach today," said Fonterra's New Options manager Nigel Little. "It could also reduce return rates due to spoilage, aging or overstocking by retailers.  Yoghurt manufactured with our process will be less susceptible to spoilage resulting from variations in the supply chain."
 
The technology will be formally launched at the Health Ingredients Europe show in Frankfurt in November.