Packaging was once there simply to protect the contents, but modern packaging can do a lot more than this. Modern packages can think for themselves, remind us, extend shelf life, be heated at the press of a button and influence our senses with their appearance, odour and feel.
Alongside all of these new functions, packaging also has to meet the needs of marketing and sales, comply with safety and hygiene regulations and satisfy such consumer requirements as sustainability and easier handling while keeping the cost of production, transport and storage low.
The primary purpose of each package — that of protecting its contents during transport and storage — remains unchanged. Packages prevent contamination and damage and protect foods from harmful environmental influences such as light, oxygen and moisture. They provide protection from spoilage due to microorganisms and prevent the loss of flavour or vitamins. The responsibility for food safety lies with the manufacturer.
Whether food is still edible can be rendered visible by the special sensors of modern packages. These react when certain substances or gases are released and indicate this with a change in colour and fluorescence. The state of the food is then evident at a glance.
Consumer’s demands of the packaging industry cover not only safety and hygiene, but also sustainability. Recycling is on the advance, particularly in Europe, and all EU states are to recycle half of their domestic waste by 2020.
In addition to consumer expectations, the packaging industry is also exposed to the growing requirements of its customers. Responding to the desire for greater flexibility and efficiency, the sector reacts with an intelligent and interlinked factory in which classical mechanical engineering efficiently networks with sensors, software and services.
Packaging is indispensable for modern society. This applies especially to foods and becomes apparent above all where it is lacking — in developing countries. Food often spoils due to the lack or inadequacy of packaging for transport and storage before it reaches the consumer.
Source : What's New in Food, 14 February 2017