Experts identify packaging solutions to address food waste

By Rick Lingle in Optimization on April 05, 2016

Food packaging experts from Nestlé, University of Guelph and Sealed Air explored packaging solutions that play a role in reducing food waste during a March 23 webinar sponsored by PAC FOOD WASTE, an initiative of PAC, the Packaging Consortium.

It didn’t take long for #AvocadoGate to come up in the food waste and packaging webinar. In fact, it was the first thing mentioned by lead-off speaker professor Keith Warriner of the University of Guelph’s food science department. In referencing the social-media-fanned over-packaging frenzy about a prepackaged, prepeeled avocado, Warriner pointed out that the packaging provides 50 days of shelf life to a product that typically only lasts 2 to 3 days.

“While the packaging does a tremendous job in reducing food waste, what people focused on was the amount of packaging,” opined Warriner. “It just goes to show [to what degree] consumers are confused about food waste and the role packaging plays.”

From Warriner’s view, packaging role is to provide an efficient way to extend the shelf life of packaged foods using active and intelligent packaging. He described the latter as packaging that sense the environment and can react to changing conditions of the packaged food.

He identifies reducing food waste as the #1 trend related to food, followed by Food Fraud (including mislabeled food), Just-in-time Manufacturing and Food Safety.

 “Food waste is not a new problem,” Warriner pointed out, citing a figure the current 30% figure attributed to food waste compared to 40% 10 years ago and 50% 20 years ago and pointed to packaging as factoring into that reduction and the newer use of intelligent packaging. Practical solutions to reduce food waste are to increase efficiencies and, more importantly, using intelligent packaging to focus on increasing shelf life."


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