“Consumers today demand a lot more from packaging in terms of protecting the quality, freshness and safety of foods,” explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Kasturi Nadkarny. “The passing of regulations all over the world only reinforces the need for more innovative and intelligent packaging concepts.”
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Many of the regulations have come into force due to rising health concerns regarding carcinogenic ingredients used in the packaging materials. For example, bisphenol-A used in plastic food containers is being linked to breast cancer and miscarriages. Other regulations require food packages that use biodegradable and environment-friendly material.
The most significant is the European Commission’s proposed Super Regulation that compels the food packaging industry to use only the materials mentioned in the positive list of permissible ingredients for making plastics.
The European Commission also stated in January 2004 that manufacturers would have to stop using semicarbazide in sealants for glass jars and bottles by October 2005.
“These regulations spur advancements in food packaging solutions, as manufacturers now have additional responsibilities for proving the suitability of their packaging solutions and meeting the required standards,” says Nadkarny.
With the passing of certain regulations, plastics in particular have come under a lot of scrutiny. However, the increasing flexibility it affords for designing cans and containers makes plastics the number one choice for food packages.
At present, glass packages face stiff competition from PET bottles, which are thin, lightweight, have a high resistance to breakages, and are easy to handle. It also offers flexibility in producing packages of varying shapes for food and beverages.
There is also a tremendous emphasis on convenience of food packages. Packaging that offers better functionality with increased convenience regarding portability and storage are gaining popularity.
In keeping with this trend, milk -packaging technology received a boost recently with Norwegian dairy manufacturer Elopak announcing the launch of its new 'carton with a screw cap'. Another significant development is the introduction of the metal 'Dot Top' cans from Silgan Containers Corporation.
“While different packaging technologies and materials will continue to compete directly with one another in the future, its success depends on the functionality, cost efficiencies, and its impact on the brand value,” concludes Nadkarny.
Global Advances in Food Packaging is part of the D926 (Chemicals, Materials and Foods) subscription and analyzes the latest trends and advances in food packaging technologies. It discusses the commonly used packaging materials such as glass, plastics, light metals, and paperboard and highlights certain food packaging techniques namely aseptic active, controlled atmosphere storage, and modified atmosphere packaging. In addition to identifying key technology drivers and industry challenges, it highlights important research efforts across a broad spectrum of universities and companies around the globe. Executive summaries and analyst interviews are available to the press.
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Keywords in this release: food packaging, bisphenol-A, European Commission, Super Regulation, semicarbazide, plastics, glass packages, light metals, paperboard, PET bottles, Elopak, 'Dot Top' cans, Silgan Containers Corporation, aseptic active, controlled atmosphere storage, modified atmosphere packaging