Producers continue to address sustainably feeding the world’s growing population. Looking for ways to protect the good and boost the shelf life.
Imagine entering your local grocery store. You might grab a cart or a basket and glance at your shopping list. Chances are, you won’t notice anything too out of the ordinary as you shop from aisle to aisle. Yet, new packaging innovations can be seen nearly everywhere. Let’s take a look at the packaging innovations in supermarkets across the globe.
In today’s grocery store, many produce items are stocked and sold the same way they have been since food commerce began – fresh and in bulk. Needless to say, the way consumers shop has changed greatly over the decades. Most shoppers are not going to the store every day, but instead weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. The ways produce gets to the store has also changed. Instead of a short drive from farm to store, produce may travel hundred or thousands of miles before getting to the shelf.
This is leading to hundreds of pounds of fresh produce going to waste every day. Producers continue to address sustainably feeding the world’s growing population. Looking for ways to preotect the good and boost the shelf life. Shelf-life is critical to prevent food waste, and packaging is the most effective way to increase the use and not waste of produce.
Along with fresh produce, dairy products are among the most delicate when it comes to storage and shelf life. Dairy packaging has to contend with leakage, as well as odor control for pungent soft cheeses.
Plastic packaging has been providing shatterproof, leak-proof containers for liquid dairy for decades. New innovations in the dairy aisle include improved barrier films and sealants that keep oxygen from getting into cheese packages, and the ability to keep milk fats from leaking out and saturating the packaging. Unique adhesives enable high-barrier foil lids to adhere to light plastic containers, keeping items like yogurt fresh and portable, yet easy to open when packed in school lunches or for use on the go.
Meat used to be almost exclusively packaged in simplified, dense foam trays. Today, new thinner, more efficient plastic trays have expanded the options for meat producers. Many varieties are PET or recycled post-consumer PET, and the plastic film that covers and protects the meat has the same barrier-property enhancements seen in produce and dairy.
Designing meat packaging with improved oxygen barrier not only protects against spoilage and keeps meats fresher longer, it also protects the meat from graying – a purely cosmetic development that can repel customers, adding to food waste and increased cost for grocers.
Frozen foods can have hard, sharp edges, so innovations in frozen food packaging focus on durability and flexibility in subzero temperatures. Advances in strength, puncture resistance and barrier properties have enabled modern conveniences like resealable plastic pouches and steam-in, microwavable bags, making the transition from the grocer’s aisle to the consumer’s dinner table that much easier.
Even staple and bulk food items have benefitted from packaging. Consumer packaging concerns are being solved, including the heaviness of canned goods, the need for special opening tools and the difficulty of keeping opened dry goods fresher longer. Easy-open flexible, plastic stand-up pouches deliver the same soups, vegetables and sauces that required cans in the past, with less raw materials and shipping weight, saving resources in transportation.
Now is the time to do what is necessary.
As President Joe Biden took office yesterday, our nation faces critical and urgent issues: a global pandemic, extraordinary economic challenges and political unrest following the siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Yet, as one of his first acts in office, the President rejoined the Paris Agreement. While the U.S. has made substantial progress on CO2 emissions, this move signals to the rest of the world that the United States will once again engage and collaborate in reducing carbon emissions to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Its message also should be a reminder that, while our nation faces the immediate task of recovery, we must work for transformative change. Now is the time to act – act boldly, to move our nation toward a net-zero economy.