The intelligent and smart packaging shaping the food and drink sector

23 August 2023, 15:21 PM
  • It has the ability to help track stock, and even keep products fresher. Speciality Food takes a closer look at a whole new wave of packaging
The intelligent and smart packaging shaping the food and drink sector

“Active packaging, also known as intelligent packaging has been revolutionising the food industry in recent years,” said Aashi Mishra from Research Nester, who has been studying the emerging market. “And when compared to traditional packaging, it has proved to be efficient in extending the shelf life of the products. Utilising technology that purposefully releases or absorbs substances from food or the headspace of food packaging, this packaging prevents the oxidation of lipids, microbial development, and moisture loss.”

Intelligent packaging, on the other hand, said Aashi, involves interacting with consumers and others across the value chain. These two technologies are advancing at an impressive rate throughout industry, with market growth to an expected 45 billion US Dollars by the end of 2033 – a compound annual growth rate of 7%.
Advancements include RFID tags, sensors, and data transmission systems to enhance product safety, traceability and consumer engagement.

How can active packaging increase food shelf life?

There are several areas in which this kind of packaging is already being implemented, said Aashi.
1. Growing adoption of sachets and pads: These are frequently used to soak up or expel gases. Foods, including coffee, pizza, baked goods, meat and poultry products, frequently contain oxygen absorbers in sachet form. Other sachets absorb carbon dioxide and oxygen and are most often found in containers of coffee.
2. Use of material containing components: Recent initiatives to engage in active scavenging (mostly in recycling) have concentrated on integrating the scavenger within the package itself. This technique can be applied to numerous plastic containers, including PETE bottles.
3. Anti-microbial systems: The possibility of regulated antimicrobial release from packaging materials is an innovative development in active packaging. By reducing bacterial growth and deterioration, anti-microbials included in packaging materials could boost shelf life.

Where is the smart packaging market growing?

While strong inroads into smart packaging are happening across Europe, where Aaisha said demand is rising particular in the beverages market, Japan (which has seen support via various government initiatives) and North America, are leading the way, with consumers driving developments due to their increasing demands for knowledge around products, and fears over adulteration.

New product launches driving growth in the packaging sector

- “Italian firm FoodCODE has developed a cloud-based app using smart QR codes together with a database. The business adds nutritional information to packaging which consumers can scan with their phone.”
- “Canada-based Safer offers e-smart labels that can identify and indicate the freshness of food. They adhere to packaging for meat, fish and dairy, and alter colour according to the degree of chemical and reagent deterioration. The reference colours for deterioration vary depending on the type of food. This product, and others like it, could help reduce food waste.”
- “LAMAR in the US specialises in biodegradable printed sensors, incorporated into packaging for accurate location, temperature, and humidity tracking. Data from the sensors is securely connected and transmitted to the cloud network by a mobile gateway. This technology could be used to help lower carbon footprints.”

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