In the food industry, packaging has always been a very important part of the product. It’s primary function is to contain and protect food therein, ease storage and transportation and also to communicate and market the product.
With new regulation, packaging must also clearly indicate quality and composition requirements such as ingredients list, allergens and certifications attached to the product, depending on local, national and global regulatory requirements.
Economic downturn and harsh competition make food manufacturers focus on innovation. R&D teams are always thinking of new formula, new concept, new size etc. Innovation is the best way to differentiate, keep margins high and expand market shares. Product innovation is also about packaging.
“Smart” packaging extends products shelf-life or alert when food gets altered. Because people are prepared to pay more for products certified for specific qualities such as organic, non GMO etc. “smart” packaging can be an effective tool for marketing premium brand. By wrapping their food products with “smart” packaging technology, manufacturers offer sophisticated final product to their customers.
New high-tech packaging is extremely controlled and has to comply with local regulation. For instance, in Europe, manufacturers have to comply with the 1935 /2004/CE regulation to sell products wrapped in “smart” packaging. Audits must be regularly set up by independent and governmental bodies to get the certification attached. Preferred nanotechnologies used in food packaging are from natural ingredients, must not contain more than a defined amount of chemicals (depending on local regulations) and particles must be small enough to be in contact with food without causing any health problems (especially for zinc and iron based components).
Technology to expand product shelf-life
“Smart” packaging provides information on the freshness of the product in real time and contributes to extend products life, for example by the absorption of oxygen contained therein.
These technologies are particularly efficient on baked and fresh products. For instance, lots of products are now wrapped with MAP (Modified Atmosphere Package). The protective packaging contains a mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide to avoid any bacterial and microbial proliferation.
Absorbent patches are another high-tech component in “smart” packaging. To avoid a change in smell, color, taste or nutritional composition, manufacturers add patches composed of iron fibers, enzymes or ascorbic acid to packaging.
Technology to inform consumers about the freshness of their food
Stickers on packaging can now change color based on temperature, oxygen concentration, elapsed time, pH change etc. to indicate the freshness of the contents. Captors can extend shelf-life by absorbing the gases that cause a product to degrade.
Increasingly, consumers want to know about the ingredients of what they eat and drink. Being in compliance with local regulation, promoting certifications and offering innovative product while reducing NPD time-to-market, are now key activities for food manufacturers.
Lascom provides dedicated software solutions to better manage NPD, quality and R&D for food processors. Some features are:
- Single repository to better trace products and raw material such as nanotechnologies included in packaging
- Easy labeling tool to comply with local, national and global regulations
- Quality management tool to attach certification to right material and easily identify any products involved in a sanitary alert
- Reduce NPD time to market with a user-friendly R&D formulation tool. R&D teams are able to formulate new product and easily adapt them at any time considering cost and raw material availability
- Improved collaboration with supplier with the supplier portal