The food waste problem are pushing up food packaging innovations more than ever: one in nine people around the world go hungry and more than 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or waste every year (data by FAO). In other words, just one quarter of all wasted food could feed the 795 million undernourished people around the world who suffer from hunger.
Food packaging innovation might just make a positive impact on all counts: improving shelf life, reducing food waste and delivering a sustainable option.
The new recyclable barrier pouches
Up until now, a brand using flexible packaging as part of its sustainability commitment has had to choose between a low carbon footprint from the use of lightweight flexible materials or the ability to recycle the packaging. For the first time there is a barrier flexible pouch that has a viable recycling strategy. These new pouches can be recycled with other polyethylene films and bags at grocery store drop-off locations.
This new packaging option combined with the high-pressure processing (HPP) as food processing technology can create a real sustainable packaging innovation opportunity.
Extending the shelf life of products thanks to packaging and process innovations can really help to reduce food waste in a different ways:
- HPP eliminates the need for preservatives in many products and increases the shelf life significantly.
- Products that were used to last a few days can now be safe to eat for weeks. The products do need to be refrigerated because the spores of the microorganisms are not eliminated (even if the refrigeration doesn’t destroy the microorganism, but just stops the process due to the decay). Refrigeration also extends shelf life but the longer the shelf life the more likely a barrier package will be needed to keep out oxygen.
- Fresh, healthy foods can be safely stored longer in barrier packaging.
So, these two innovations combined (package and process) may lead to many new sustainable innovations. This is a huge step towards the circular economy for flexible packaging and a significant opportunity to reduce food waste.