Guide on the Disadvantages and Advantages of Canned Food

Nick Mirev
Table of Contents
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    Food preservation has played a major role in the world for the past millennia. One of the main reasons why people use canning is that it preserves the majority of nutrients and is convenient and fast. Businesses also find it more convenient to use cans compared to other types of packaging solutions. They are easy to stack and store. Cans are also durable and lightweight (especially aluminum cans used for beverages). However, just like other food preservation methods, canning has its cons too. In this article, we’ll share more about the disadvantages and advantages of canned food. If you’re interested in the canned food market, check out our guides on wholesale preserves and wholesale canned goods.

    Key takeaway: The main advantages of canned food are the lower price and the prolonged shelf life of canned products. The disadvantages of canned food are the exposure to BPA and the reduced nutritional value of canned goods.
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    Main Advantages of Canned Food

    Prolonged Shelf Life

    In the past, food was preserved to prolong its shelf life. This was primarily done to ensure there was enough food for the winter months. Canned foods have a shelf life of 12 to 18 months. However, some products can last much longer. Although the increased shelf life is among the major advantages of canned food, it’s important to know that the nutritional value of canned foods deteriorates with time.


    There are many applications of canned food in restaurants and households. It’s convenient to store cans compared to storing raw ingredients. Furthermore, the canned food industry also offers a variety of ready dishes. They require minimal preparation and can be convenient for people with busy schedules.

    Nutritional Value

    The majority of nutrients are preserved during the canning process. This makes canned food a nutritional option for standalone consumption or as an ingredient in dishes. Although some vitamins and minerals are lost during the canning process, that’s also true for all food preservation methods.

    Low Price

    Manufacturers in the canning industry benefit from low seasonal and wholesale prices when they buy ingredients. The ready products are then sold all year round. That’s why the prices of canned vegetables or fruits are often lower than the prices of fresh ones. This is considered among the major advantages of canned food. Produce distributors often have both fresh and canned options in their catalogs. 

    Minimal Additives

    Although canning is rarely processed-free, very few preservatives are needed for the canning process. 


    Although the most popular canned foods are vegetables and fruits, this food preservation method is suitable for a wide range of ingredients and dishes. For example, canned food businesses offer condiments, ready-to-eat meals like soups and stews, various types of gravy, and dairy products like condensed milk.

    Emergency Preparedness

    Canned food is a suitable solution for survival situations such as tornado warnings, earthquakes, and other disasters. It’s part of emergency kits for households. Institutions such as hospitals and military bases also stock their food storages heavily with canned goods.

    Canning Is Sustainable

    During peak seasons, there’s an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Thanks to canning, these food products can be preserved for the winter season.

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    Main Disadvantages of Canned Food

    Nutrient Losses

    When comparing canned vegetables vs fresh ones, the latter is most certainly the more nutritious option. Canned products preserve the majority of their nutrients but some vitamins and minerals are inevitably lost during the process.

    High Sodium Content

    Canned goods, especially soups and prepared meals, contain salt as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Frequent consumption of canned foods might lead to hypertension and other health issues.

    Exposure to BPA

    Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a type of plastic that is used for the lining of most metal cans. It helps keep the quality of the products and prevents corrosion. Various health risks have been associated with BPA exposure. That’s why many manufacturers switch to BPA-free alternatives. However, the majority of canned foods and beverages still contain BPA.

    Impact on Flavor

    It’s no surprise that fine dining restaurants don’t order bulk canned food. That’s because the canned food market offers affordable products but their taste is often not as good as the flavor of fresh ingredients. Business owners of high-end establishments might strictly forbid the usage of canned goods or other preserved products.

    Eco-Friendly Concerns

    Although there are many ecological advantages of canned food, there are certain cons as well. Cans and other canned goods packaging materials often end up in landfills. Packaging from the food and beverage industry contributes to the majority of worldwide pollution.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about the Disadvantages and Advantages of Canned Food

    BlueCart helps businesses in multiple ways. Our SaaS solutions have assisted many wholesalers in their quest to automate various business processes and tasks. We’ve also helped businesses find suppliers. Our blog posts and guides are also helpful resources that cover various topics. Below you can find some commonly asked questions about the advantages of canned food.

    How Long Does Canned Food Last?

    The prolonged shelf life is the main advantage of canned food. Most manufacturers say their ready-to-eat canned food recipes or ingredients should be within 12-18 months. However, if stored properly, canned food is safe to eat a couple of years after it is made. People who do home canning often consume their products for years ahead. Even though most types of canned food are safe to eat even after their expiration date, their quality and nutritional value deteriorate as time passes by. The mineral and vitamin content of food that was canned years ago is lower than recently canned products and significantly lower compared to fresh produce.

    What Are the Different Canning Methods?

    One of the advantages of canned food is that it's a simple process. There are three main methods of canning: water bath canning, atmospheric steam canning, and pressure canning. Let’s briefly examine them.

    • Boiling water canning. In this method, the boiling water that surrounds the cans or jars is heated to 212°F (100°C). By maintaining boiling temperatures, bacteria, molds,  and yeasts are destroyed. 
    • Atmospheric steam canning. This method is very similar to boiling water canning. However, instead of water, the cans are surrounded by steam. Foods that require longer canning time are not suitable for steam canning as the increased time means the canner may boil dry. 
    • Pressure canning. When a sealed canner is heated, pressure builds inside and the water inside the canner transforms into steam. These canners have vents that prevent the pressurized steam from leaving the device.

    Boiling water and atmospheric steam canning methods are more suitable for high-acidic foods such as most fruits and fermented vegetables like pickles, relishes, sauerkraut, and salsa. Pressure canning is recommended for low-acidic foods such as most vegetables and meats. Canned ready-to-eat meals often have low acid levels and are more suitable for pressure canning.

    What Food Should Not Be Canned?

    Food composed primarily of fat should not be canned as it can go rancid. That includes products like lard, butter, and mayonnaise. Instead, these products can be made shelf-stable by other food preservation methods. Certain types of grains are also not suitable for canning. Wheat, oats, and bread are likely to break down and go rancid. Households and businesses that buy bulk grains have grain storage that has proper conditions in terms of heat, moisture, and light. Some thick fruits such as avocado and bananas are also not suitable for canning. Their thickness doesn’t allow the heat to properly penetrate during the canning process. Thus, they won’t be shelf-stable. A good alternative can be to puree bananas and freeze them.

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