Canned foods are generally perceived to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen varieties, though this consumer mindset is entirely on the wrong track. Nutritional levels of canned foods are very much equal to fresh and frozen products, and in some cases they may also be more nutritious. For instance, research conducted by Michigan State University in 2012 has established that the retort process used for canning tomatoes in fact enhances the content of their B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids. Further, the canning process renders fiber in becoming more soluble, which is highly beneficial for the human body. Such benefits are derived from the canning process itself, with foods being picked at highly fresh levels for immediate transport to canning units that are, by design, located in the vicinity of farms for ensuring that fruits and vegetables are canned within a short time of being picked. Cooking the food in the can destroys bacteria and creates a low-oxygen environment for inhibiting food and nutrient degradation all though the can’s shelf life. Consequently, canned food remains stable with no chemical preservatives being added, which constitutes a major difference between canned and fresh foods.
Research has also revealed that canning is able to enhance the levels of a few antioxidants in foods and vegetables. For example, canned pumpkin’s beta carotene concentration is higher than that of fresh pumpkin, and absorption of lutein, an antioxidant associated with reducing the risks of cataract and macular degeneration, by corn increases greatly with the generation of heat in the canning process. Retort cooking, too, utilizes high temperatures for sterilizing the food products in cans that is a vital factor to maintain food safety. Metal cans enable in safeguarding food from external influences during heat treatment and storage due to the hermetic seal created before the retorting process.
Metal cans, after the packaging process, are most effective in preserving the quality of foods contained in them. Normally, degradation of foods occurs because of prolonged exposure to sunlight or air, with metals forming the only alternative that can completely prevent the infiltration of light and oxygen into the package. Moreover, metal cans enable in addressing consumer concerns for eco-friendly products, since metals are totally recyclable for continuous reutilization with no compromise as regards performance or quality.
Other than these intrinsic advantages of cans, they have also been found to encourage healthier lifestyles among consumers. Foods in cans are the ideal staple foods that can be stocked and be ready for consumption when required, offering a convenient option for individuals to obtain the recommended daily quantities and categories of fruits, vegetables, meats and beans. For instance, single-serving cans offer portion-controlled meals and healthy snacks straight off the package, which saves consumers the time and effort that goes into preparation of separate meals.
For the global canned food industry, “convenience” has been the buzzword that has resulted in increasing demand ever since foods were introduced in cans. Processed foods available in cans have revolutionized the food industry, offering enhanced shelf life and varieties of products, keeping in view the specific requirements of consumers. Global demand for Canned Food is slated to post a CAGR of about 3.5% between 2010 and 2020 in terms of value to reach a projected US$99.7 billion by 2020 from an estimated US$77.2 billion in 2013. The developing economies of Asia-Pacific and South America are expected to foster growth, and canned foods offer very convenient meal options for the working classes of these regions. Time and effort required in preparing a meal is cut down drastically, and choices on offer are aplenty to suit every appetite and palate.