Every year, 90 million tonnes of food is thrown away in the EU alone. Backed by a €3.9m grant from the EU, the ISA-PACK project is aiming to reduce this food wastage by up to75%.
The global packaging market is estimated to be worth over €400bn. It has an annual growth rate of over 4%. Food packaging represents more than 70% of the market worth around €280bn.
Packaging is big business. Remember, as well as containing the food, the packaging protects it from contamination, enables communication with the consumer and, importantly, preserves the food to enhance its shelf life, quality and safety.
Extended shelf life
The objective of the ISA-PACK project is to increase shelf life and reduce food waste via more effective packaging. The European consortium is developing fully flexible, sustainable and intelligent materials that will more effectively package fresh food produce. For food producers and retailers, the innovation will result in dramatically extended shelf life, improved quality, enhanced safety and reduced food and packaging waste.
Two innovative materials
The ISA-PACK project anticipates improving shelf life by as much as 50%. It will do so by developing two novel biopolymer materials to fulfil the needs of two different food groups.
- Stretch wrap film. This is used widely by supermarkets for the in-store packaging of a huge array of foods. These include meats, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, deli and others. The novel ISA-PACK PHB co-polymer stretch films will be suitable for the packaging of most food produce where conventional PVC stretch films are currently used.
- Gas barrier sheets and films. These are suitable for the manufacture of modified atmosphere packaging ‘MAP’, including vacuum packaging. MAP is a popular packaging system for fresh and cooked produce as it enables an extension in food shelf life. The novel ISA-PACK PHB copolymer MAP materials will be suitable for the packaging of most food produce where conventional MAP packaging is used.
The market for such packaging is vast. There exists strong commercial and political drivers for the use of sustainable, active and intelligent packaging. Manufacturers and retailers demand improved quality and extended shelf life to improved profitability. Consumers and retailers demand greater information and assurance of food safety and quality. Political groups and consumers demand reduced food and packaging waste and lower environmental impact throughout the food and packaging value chain. ISA-PACK is on target to deliver on all these fronts.