While looking for your favourite food items in a supermarket, did it ever strike how does it reach you so fresh or how similar food items which used to have a very few days of expiry date a couple of decades back now have expiry date running in years. Modern food packaging innovations have made it possible to keep your food fresh for a much longer time, without changing the taste or aroma. This article is about some of such modern innovations and the impact they had on our food packaging industry.
Changing lifestyles drive growth in modern food packaging industry. Type of food packaging and packging boxes design has become as integral to food item itself. This trend is most noticeable in western countries lead by USA Europe and Japan but China, India and other developing countries are fast catching up. Demand in other countries is nothing beyond the most basic food packaging. Here are some of the modern in food packaging:
1) Flavour and odour absorbers like films and sachets have been introduced to reduce the transfer of aroma or flavour between components. This helps keeping food items fresh and natural for a long times.
2) Digital technology has been introduced to look into the freshness of food items. Ripeness indicators have been designed recently to monitor and communicate information about food quality. These smart devices can be incorporated on the food item itself.
3) Various industries have introduced specific technologies suiting their special food type. Drip absorbing pads have been introduced for moisture control and oxygen removal systems have been used to keep egg fresh for a longer period of time in poultry industry.
Sustainability of packging boxes material has been a topic of debate in recent times and like all other debates about environment, majority believes that its time for packaging industry to go green too. Various corporations and environmental groups are working together to reduce the effect of non-biological packaging material on our ecosystem. Sustainable packaging is the new buzzword in food packaging industry. All new innovations in food packaging have some element of 'green' in it. Few criteria's have been defined for a packaging material to be called sustainable:
1) It has to be healthy safe and beneficial for communities and individuals throughout its lifecycle.
2) It meets market criteria for performance and cost
3) It is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy.
4) It maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
5) It is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
6) It is made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios.
7) It is designed to optimize materials and energy
8) It is recovered effectively and used in biological and/or industrial cradle to cradle cycles(SPC, 2007)
Source: Institute of Food Technologies
All the modern day advancements are coming in nanotechnology and food packaging industry is not very different. It is said that nano technology will produce the most remarkable new food packaging concepts. Work has already begun in the field of active and intelligent packaging, pathogen detection and creating good barriers between various food materials.