The Big Question | Is sector’s food waste focus right?

Food waste has become a key part of the latest phase of the Courtauld Commitment. So is the packaging industry on the right track by creating new packs that keep food fresher for longer?

George Slack, managing director, National Flexible

Yes. Active packaging in flexibles is an area where technology is proceeding at pace. For example, National Flexible are marketing an active packaging development capable of inhibiting microbial growth and increasing product shelf life. The technology is based on the action of metal cations by way of a patterned coating on the inside of the film. The formulation is tailored specifically to the food product to be packed. This includes anti-fungal coatings for bread and morning goods and antioxidants for fresh meat.



Malcolm Hoyle, sales director, The Packaging Hub

Yes. I think that as long as the food itself hasn’t been doctored with further additives to achieve a longer shelf life and it’s the new technology born out of the industry through innovation, then I believe the industry is on the right track. These type of developments hopefully will help enable food producers and retailers alike to strike the balance between how much to produce and pack, thus ensuring less waste. The industry should continue to strive to find solutions to the problems raised by the sectors we service.


Neil Farmer, consultant, Neil Farmer Associates

Yes. Extending the shelf life is part of the holistic approach to packaging. Through developments in intelligent packaging, improved barrier performance, additives and materials, we now have technology that can double the shelf life of certain food products, compared with conventional packaging. What started out as material reduction programmes has become a drive to save and replenish the earth’s natural resources. Consumers want food products which are fresh and ready to be eaten over a longer period of time.


Stergios Bititsios, associate director, MMR

Maybe. The discourse shouldn’t revolve around the use of technology for prolonging a product’s freshness. After all, there’s a perceptual shelf life threshold in consumers’ minds that separates ‘fresh’ with ‘processed’. Increasing a product’s life-cycle may put food brands in danger, especially those in the chilled sector. The issue retailers and manufacturers should aim to resolve is the declining degree of sustainable consumption. Packaging can be used to break consumers’ current consumption patterns.


Colin Fisher, market analyst, Innovia Films

Yes. Over the decades the Packaging Industry has done a sterling job in developing new materials and methods to protect sensitive fresh produce on its journey through the supply chain.  However, we appear to be reaching the limits of what is possible by conventional means and waste levels are still embarrassingly high.  So, my view is yes, we need to think out of the box and usher in a new era that welcomes the use new technologies provided they are utilised in a safe and cost effective manner.

Iain Ferguson, environment manager, The Co-operative Food

Yes. Technology has a crucial role to play in keeping food fresher for longer.  Huge amounts of work, money and resources goes into producing food, and anything that can be done to make it last longer has got to be worth looking into. Using packaging to exploit the metabolism of food to extend life without using preservatives is even better. In May of this year, The Co-operative Food became the first retailer to use an innovative yet simple packaging initiative to extend the shelf life of fresh produce. Packs of our own-brand large vine tomatoes were the first product to use the new market-leading packaging technology.  The tomato packaging features smaller perforation holes that have been scientifically proven to extend the life of the product by controlling the amount of moisture in the packs. The Co-operative Food’s packaging supplier, Paragon, worked on creating and strategically placing the perfect number and size of holes to promote maximum shelf life. Tomato packaging has included punched-out holes for some time, but the new computer-guided laser-cut “Modified Moisture Packaging (MMP)” small hole perforation technology allows controlled modification of the moisture in the packs. The new packaging extends the life of the produce by up to two days.


One comment

  1. Thank you for this article. It’s interesting to see that most of you have faith in the active and/or intelligent packaging industry. Indeed technological developments are fast nowadays and active materials, oxygen scavenging, nano technology and map or mmp are pushing the packaging industry forward. But I still believe that the technology suppliers are not communicating enough with the buyers/users. Many times we see (clever and highly interesting) products being developed, whithout consulting the entire supply chain beforehand. It’s more ‘look here what we can do’ instead of defining a mutual goal first. At AIPIA we strongly encourage to set-up a platform where those high tech developments can be discussed with the entire supply chain. We believe that if you intend to make a package active or intelligent in order to fight food waste, you must use this technology in every sector of the supply chain. No more vertical projects, but share technology. In this way it will become affordable and even profitable. Because at the end it all comes to one thing: money. All about this on our newswebsite: