What are some trends being seen at the moment?
l think many of the dynamics for food and beverage packaging are global. For example, convenience is a major factor and with the growing demand for ‘fresh’—even if that is on an industrial scale—packaging has to meet these challenges.
These include longer shelf-life, better supply chain control, clearer labelling and maybe even condition monitoring. Some of this could be driven by legislation; China is certainly very hot on food safety at present.
For Asia, particularly the whole counterfeit product issue is huge, especially for high-end spirits and wines. So more authentication products are being seen today, such as Thinfilm’s OpenSense NFC tag.
Also, YPB Group Limited, a brand protection and customer engagement solutions company, has recently partnered with three Australian packaging companies for its particle tracer technology to fight counterfeiting. So I expect activity in this area will only increase.
What are some upcoming trends for packaging?
Due to convenience and environmental factors, I think the pouch will become more and more prevalent. Lamination and barrier technology for plastics or foil/plastics is developing all the time, and in doing so, broadening the market reach.
Also, l think flexible packaging is winning the sustainable argument over rigid containers. So where they can replace glass or various types of plastics, I believe they will.
How big is the active and intelligent packaging market for food and beverages?
It is growing all the time and all the market predictors are showing strong growth across most areas for the next five Packaging years. Intelligent packaging seems to be booming as major brands like the consumer engagement options it gives them in addition to the authentication and tracking aspects.
But, even what l call the ‘invisible’ technologies, such as antimicrobial additives to plastics and other forms of shelf extension are all predicted to grow at a healthy rate.
Some active technologies, such as gas scavenging, moisture barriers and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) are quite mature. And, they are and will continue to get better; skin vacuum as opposed to traditional MAP or vacuum is proving very effective in increasing shelf-life of proteins such as meat and fish.
We would like to see more activity in the adoption of condition monitors too. It is time to get rid of misleading ‘best before’ and ‘sell by’ labels.
What is most important about packaging for brand manufacturers?
What is important is that the packaging conveys and delivers their brand effectively in terms of quality and safety and, increasingly, sets it apart from the other packs by engaging the consumer in new and interesting ways.
For example, this can include interaction with food packaging through smart phones with the addition of smart labels.
What advice can you give brand/ F&B manufacturers on what they should consider most important for this year?
We have just finished the AIPIA Congress, and it is very clear that those brands who are adopting active and intelligent packaging (A&IP) as part of their strategy are invigorated and developing new ways to harness the power of packaging.
So my message to the other manufacturers both big and small is, “Don’t get left behind!”