Future food packaging will be smart

Future food packaging will be smart

packaging 31december2099 We hear that food packaging will be edible, built with nanotechnology, 3d printed, water soluble and will have biosensors, will be able to heat or cool the content and many other amenities (the website Food Dive provides an amazing list of recent innovations). We don’t think that the future of waste management will be based upon expensive and complex robots in your kitchen, but in smart packaging. And it’s not coming because of the megatrends of environment, technology and big cities but because there will be benefits for consumers, retailers and manufacturers.

Intelligent or active features will add costs to package so innovation must have a final beneficial outcome that outweighs the extra expenses of adding the technology. Where are the benefits? Packaging will “taste” the food and inform the consumer if it’s fresh or spoiled, will confirm microwave doneness, some will be self heating or self cooling, other will shield from pathogen toxins. If RFID equipped, they will also be able to communicate with the refrigerator and track inventory, check expiration dates, alert about food degradation and manage your grocery list available on your phone. The same RFID is helping retailers in the same way; IDTechEx estimates the total RFID market to be worth $9.2bn in 2014, rising to $30.2bn in 2024. For retailers packaging technology will also help to streamline the shopping process for the consumer: do anybody really believe that scanning a QR code relaunching to some web landing pages or sending a beacon signal on the smartphone are going to make life easier to people? When static (ingredient list, nutritional properties etc…) and dynamic (freshness) info will be in the packaging and accessible with wearables, consumer engagement will be much more effective. Have a look at this great post “The Future of Intelligent Retail” all related to packaging development and engagement.

packaging 2 31december2099But the main benefit of intelligent packaging will be about extending shelf life (especially of fresh food) and this may generate huge profits for both retailers and manufacturers, while for the opposite reason we think that stickers informing the consumer if the frozen chain had been broken will never see the light. Our preferred innovation is relatively simple: additives which make the packaging bio-degradable. As stated by the Waste Management World website in their post “Nanoscopic robot recyclers” chemically, this would cause the long chemical chains to break down into harmless substances which are part of the earth’s natural cycles. Packaging could be designed to start breaking down any time from a few weeks to two years depending on the use of the packaging. Simple, no?

So next time you’re walking into aisle X, have a look at packaging enhancements, the soup might be already talking with your smartphone.

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