Tag Archives: flexible plastic packaging

Role of Plastics in Minimizing Food Wastage

In the Global Hunger Index 2014, India ranked at 55th position among 76 emerging economies. It trails behind countries like Thailand, China, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Nepal. What is even more worrying is that a third of world’s undernourished children are in India. Despite that, a UNDP report states that upto 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. According to the agriculture ministry, food worth Rs. 50,000 crore is wasted every year in the country.Role of plastics in minimizing food wastage

 

Wastage of food is not only suggestive of hunger but also of economic problems such as inflation. In this blog we will discuss how flexible packaging can help in reduction of food wastage. First let us list out some of the reasons leading to food wastage in the food supply chain:

  • Agricultural stage: damage from pests and disease; unpredictable weather conditions; not meeting quality specifications
  • Post-harvest handling and storage: not meeting specifications for quality and/or appearance; pest damage; spillage and degradation; lack of proper storage facilities
  • Processing and packaging: trimmings and other food preparation waste; production line start up; batch mistakes; inadequate remaining shelf life
  • Distribution: damage in transit/storage due to packaging failures; product spoilage; fresh produce not meeting specifications or damaged during handling; inadequate remaining shelf life due to poor stock rotation or low sales
  • Food service: trimmings and other food preparation waste; poor inventory management (e.g. over-ordering); improper food handling; confusion over expiry date; plate leftovers
  • End consumer: trimmings and other food preparation waste; food spoilage; preparing too much food; past expiry date; plate leftovers.

 

The flexible packaging industry has the ability to be a part of the solution since it is adept at offering packaging in different sizes; innovations that help extend the shelf life of the product and keep it safe and also sustainability of the package.

Over the last few years, innovations in terms of product development like absorbing food odours, retard oxygen migration, and preserve food longer, has been driving flexible packaging. Flexible packaging engineers have incorporated new materials into the films which lead to a longer shelf life and improved quality. Other than that this form of packaging acts as a barrier against moisture, microbes, change in temperatures, dirt etc thereby greatly extending the shelf life of food and check spoilage, leading to less food waste.

To ensure safety of the packaged product an ideal flexible package should consist of the following features:

  • Increased barrier protection
  • Preventing substances which can lead to spoilage
  • Detection of spoilage
  • Recyclable
  • Cost effective
  • Suitable for contact with food
  • Have high standard of health, safety and sustainability

Flexible packaging helps reduce wastage of food from 3% to 1% by increasing the shelf life according to the Industry Council for Research and Packaging on the Environment (INCPEN). Products like vegetables, dairy have a longer shelf life thanks to smart packaging. Innovative packaging designs for milk pouches are making the transportation of milk without refrigeration possible.

Temperature variations in packed food can result in compromising its safety and quality. Driven by rapid advancements in time-temperature indicators (TTI), intelligent packaging is anticipated to witness a strong growth. This system could be able to detect food contamination and change of color incase the food is not fit for consumption by the consumer.Another innovationwhich can assist in cutting short the wastage of food is Aseptic packaging. This technology helps sterilize the package and the food product separately and then combine and seal it under a sterilize environment. This trend is fast picking up and is expected to lead in the coming years. Currently the Aseptic packaging market is at $35.8 billion and is expected to continue the upward spiral due to the consumers demanding chemical- free, natural and fresh food and beverages.

By extending the lifecycle of food and protecting it against foreign elements, smart packaging can ensure that the consumed products are safe and nutritious and hence help in improving the sustainability of the food item.

Uflex Ltd. believes that flexible packaging is an investment in protection of food and the resources that are used to produce it. Uflex manufactures plastic materials like BOPET, BOPP and Laminates which have high growth owing to their barrier properties. Barrier flexible packaging has seen a continuous growth as major manufacturers demand packaging that will ensure longer shelf life and greater protection for their produce.

IMPROVISING FLEXIBLE PACKAGING—INNOVATIONS AND ADVANCEMENTS IN EXISTING PRODUCTS

Flexible packaging has made lives easier for on-the go consumers with its high standard of functionality and sustainability. This factor is what has helped stoke the flexible packaging industry all over the globe. Today, an abundance of pouches can be found in super marts, grocery stores, shopping aisles etc.

Innovative structural design has been the cause of this benefit. Pouch packaging gives the liberty to mould it into unique sizes and shapes, is functional and convenient. Considering the popularity, flexible packaging manufacturers are regularly brainstorming in order to find new applications and to cater to a growing customer base. Unlike other packaging formats that cater to a limited set of products or to a niche segment the usage of flexible packaging is vast and versatile. No wonder, that this form of packaging has been recognized as the most useful packaging format in today’s age.

With plastic packaging being accepted in nearly every product segment, its important that the flexible packaging manufacturers device innovative and improvised packages to attract the brand owners and consumers. Some of the recent innovations and advancements that the packaging industry has seen are:

  • Co extrusion- It allows the manufacturer to prepare a multi functional packaging material in one manufacturing process as compared to traditional method of lamination and coating. Co extrusion method helps the plastic manufacturer lower the production cost involved in traditional lamination.
  • In-mold labeling- Technologies like bioplastics and nanoparticle layered plastic packaging are also slowly gaining ground owing to the increased awareness on sustainability. The Indian packaging sector has witnessed a fast growing inclination towards flexible packaging over other traditional forms owing to the light weight and functionality of plastic.
  • Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) – This technology helps the packaged food with increased shelf‐life of minimally‐processed foods. By modifying the internal environment of the package, the natural deterioration of the product is slowed down—preserving its fresh state for a longer period of time.
  • Another factor propelling the growth of the stand-up pouch as opposed to the metal can is the Aseptic packaging. This technology helps sterilize the package and the food product separately and then combine and seal it under a sterilize environment. This trend is fast picking up and is expected to lead in the coming year
  • Temperature variations in packed food can result in compromising its safety and quality. Driven by rapid advancements in time-temperature indicators (TTI), intelligent packaging is anticipated to witness a strong growth. This system could be able to detect food contamination and change of color incase the food is not fit for consumption by the consumer. Uflex Ltd is striving to provide smart, intelligent packaging solutions to the consumers with state of the art packaging and converting machines.
  • Rotogravure printing is the latest in printing technique. Manufacturers can get vibrant and clear logos and designs through this technique. Flexible packaging, being relatively new, combines very well with rotogravure printing.

Globally, the use of pouches for snacks grew by 7% in the year 2012-13. Pouches for sauces, juices registered a growth of 20% in the same duration. Other categories like baby food, side dishes grew by 102% and 58% respectively in the same period. Pouch packaging also saw a 32% growth in the pet food segment in the duration 2009-13.

The Indian flexible market which was worth Rs. 14,000 crores in 2011 is expected to reach Rs. 22,950 crores in 2015.  As the numbers indicate, flexible packaging is attracting companies and consumers alike. Factors like cost effectiveness, sustainability, convenience etc all add to its value proposition. For this reason, flexible packaging will continue its growth over other types of packaging.

Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging company has contributed greatly in both domestic and international food packaging market with its innovative and world class flexible packaging solutions, a variety of value added flexible packaging material and sophisticated products. The company believes that the greatest improvement in the packaging industry is the flexible packaging and strives to provide smart, intelligent packaging solutions to the consumers with state of the art packaging and converting machines. In this regard Uflex Ltd., is privileged to contribute to society by producing a variety of value added flexible packaging material, sophisticated products including films like BOPET, BOPP and CPP; state-of-the-art packaging and converting machines and rotogravure cylinders, thereby providing world class flexible packaging solutions to its customers.