Smart packaging in securing the food supply chain

AIPIA’s Andrew Manly – food and packaging waste require careful consideration

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Smart packaging
Andrew Manly at the Pack.Nxt conference in Mumbai. Photo PSA

At PACK.Nxt in Mumbai in January, Andrew Manly, director of the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association, which partnered the event, emphasized the pivotal role of smart packaging in reducing food waste. Manly highlighted the need for a balanced approach, noting that both food and packaging waste are crucial aspects that require careful consideration.

In his presentation, Manly pointed out that the right packaging tailored to specific products can significantly help to save food. Conversely, improper packaging can lead to wastage. He stressed the importance of a balanced strategy to address both challenges effectively.

“Right packaging for the right product is going to save food. Wrong packaging is going to waste food. It is as simple as that. What we have to do is make sure we have a balanced approach to this. Smart packaging can be a great enabler in the reduction of food waste,” he said.

India, in particular, faces a substantial food waste issue, with around 74 million tons lost annually, accounting for 22% of foodgrain output or 10% of total foodgrain and horticulture production. This loss contributes to approximately 8% of the global food waste totaling 931 million tons, as per industry reports cited by Manly.

Smart packaging, according to Manly, can address various aspects of the food supply chain, including enhancing shelf life, optimizing storage conditions, ensuring product authenticity, and improving traceability in the supply chain.

Key drivers for the development of smart packaging

Key drivers for the development of smart packaging, as outlined by Manly, include recycling, reuse and sustainability, consumer engagement – connected packaging, IOT, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and food security and safety through condition monitoring. The key benefits of digitization and data management are waste reduction, supply chain management, track and trace for anti-counterfeiting and tamper-proofing. These go hand in hand with enabling compliance with new legislation, user compliance and personalization by exploiting the increase in smartphone use. The development of new materials and technologies, and the scalability of smart technologies will lead to cost reductions.

The adoption of smart packaging solutions aligns with the industry’s commitment to sustainability, technology integration, and addressing global challenges such as food waste. Manly concluded that leveraging smart packaging technologies is crucial in creating a more efficient, sustainable, and secure food supply chain.

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