Safe, efficient, smart and sustainable food packaging

Packaging walks the talk

64
A product’s shelf life can be extended significantly by vacuum skin packaging. Photo: Sealpac

First and foremost: Protection due to packaging
The primary purpose of each package—that of protecting its contents during transport and storage—remains unchanged. Packages prevent contamination and damage, and protect foods from harmful environmental influences such as light, oxygen and moisture. They provide protection from spoilage due to microorganisms and prevent the loss of flavor or vitamins.

Up to 1.3 billion tons of foods, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, are lost each year worldwide. In some cases, fresh goods spoil during transport, are not consumed in time or are deemed unsaleable because they fall short of the given standards. And often enough, still edible food is discarded by consumers because the sell-by date has expired.

Bakery goods are gently packaged with special grippers. Photo: Gerhard Schubert GmbH

For over six years now, this overall issue has been addressed by the SAVE FOOD initiative of the FAO, the environmental program of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Messe Düsseldorf in cooperation with globally leading companies, organizations and research institutes. Their joint goal is to devise solutions to prevent food loss and wastage along the value chain. This involves making suitable infrastructure available, re-examining and modifying standards for packaging, raising awareness and, last but not least, working on the package itself.

For what is now the third time in succession, the initiative with the international SAVE FOOD congress, which marks the start of interpack in Düsseldorf from 4 to 10 May 2017, is being given a suitable platform and bringing together various stakeholders from business, science, the political sphere and civil society in the fight against food wastage. Within the fair, the special SAVE FOOD exhibition will be held for the second time in the innovationparc, which has been energetically taking up a selected issue from the sector at each interpack since 2008.

Intuitive machine operation with the HMI 4.0 from Bosch. Photo: Bosch

Hygiene’s not everything, but food is nothing without hygiene
When it comes to food packaging, hygiene is top priority, and sensitive meat and sausage products are subject to extreme standards of hygiene. Complete high-performance production lines inclusive of meat grinder, portioner and tray-sealing unit focus not only on performance, flexibility and product quality, but also on the interfaces because these have a huge bearing on productivity.

The responsibility for food safety lies with the manufacturer itself. In-plant hygiene controls are strongly advised, but even more important is the exclusion of possible hygiene traps from the outset. Covering everything from comprehensive hygiene design and effortlessly cleanable components to sterilization of the ambient air with short-wave UV radiation, highly advanced equipment delivers the highest standards of hygiene.

In the SB sector particularly, the skin pack, a two-component SB package consisting of PP or CPET tray sealed with a skin film, has become increasingly prominent. “It’s possible to extend product shelf life considerably with vacuum skin packaging,” explains Stefan Dangel, sales and marketing manager at Sealpac.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now