Fifth Range Products - history, production, trade
The new model of food consumption, the technological evolution of production systems, the creation of support structures to the market are fundamental elements for the birth of an innovative food sector such as the fifth range, an evolution of the fresh fruit and vegetable products processed and prepared ready for consumption.
Fifth range products, in fact, refer to that category of pre-cooked vegetables, not frozen, that can be kept in the refrigerator without adding preservative or dressings. As for fourth range products, also fifth range products need the preservation chain and the keeping of excellent organoleptic characteristics and they can also be organic or integrated vegetables.
Fifth range products, because of their technological characteristic better satisfy the new model of food consumption, which reconsiders food of vegetable origin: these preparations, in fact, have been the first answer of the fruit and vegetable market to the request of products that caN be consumed fast, have a high nutritional value and are safe from an hygienic-sanitary point of view.
Fifth range products were introduced in the Nineties to contrast the competition of fried potatoes, snacks and hamburgers, thanks to the healthy image of fruit and vegetables, combined to the content of services that made them "ready for consumption".
The processing of fifth range products is based on a few phases, being limited to the vacuum-sealed storage and to the refrigeration. Fifth range fruit and vegetable products can usually be preserved for an average period of 10-16 days. In general, however, depending on the methods used to preserve them, fifth range products' shelf life can vary from a minimum of 7 days up to 6 months.
Fifth range products are those fruit and vegetable products that after a first processing (selection, washing, cutting, peeling) are pre-cooked, sterilized and packaged in vacuum-sealed bags (medium-long preservation) or steamed, grilled or boiled and packaged in a protective atmosphere (perishable products). As said before, fifth range products are free of preservatives, food colouring or dressings; the cooking and the vacuum-packaging, or the packaging in a protected atmosphere, prevent phenomenon of oxidations and microbial degradation.
All the fifth range fruit and vegetable products are fresh vegetables selected, grilled, steamed or gratiné, packaged in a modified atmosphere, without adding preservatives or food colouring.
The trays used to package fifth range products are usually made of a special material, that permits to heat the product directly inside the tray both in the traditional oven and in the microwave.
Fifth range fruit and vegetable products are ideal to create tasty and natural meals in a short time and they offer many advantages to those people who love fast but quality cooking: all the vegetables are in fact harvested, selected, processed without adding preservative and they are vacuum-packaged to preserve unaltered their nutritional characteristics and guarantee all the safety of a quality product.
Fifth range fruit and vegetable products are usually divided according to the different preparation methods; there are:
- Grilled vegetables (peppers, aubergines, zucchini, baby onions, endive, mixed packages);
- Steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, mixed vegetable steamed, potatoes, turnips, etc.);
- Sauces (asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, onions, garlic, etc.).
The fruit and vegetable products that are traded the most in the fifth range sector are boiled carrots and red turnips, followed by boiled potatoes, boiled spinach and cauliflowers in pieces.