14 June 2017
By Elisabeth Comere, Director of Environment and Government Affairs
The food and beverage industry is evolving rapidly, as are available packaging options. Here’s a look at some of the trends we’re seeing.

Adjusting to New Distribution Channels with the E-Commerce Revolution
There’s no doubt e-commerce is here to stay. Not only are consumers expected to continue to purchase more goods through this channel, but online grocery sales are expected to increase 20% annually through 2025. Packaging’s role is somewhat different in the e-commerce distribution channel than it is in the retail environment. With e-commerce, there are many more touch points that represent opportunities for packaging failure, particularly if packed along with sharp, heavy, or oddly shaped items. Packaging must be sturdy enough to withstand the journey. Further, whereas packaging on a store shelf is designed to attract a consumers’ attention with sizable facings and strong shelf presence, ecommerce requirements are heavily influenced by shipping costs, favoring packaging that is as light and small as possible, without sacrificing product protection.

Ensuring Food Waste Is Reduced Throughout the Supply Chain
Minimizing food waste is a major concern from a business risk and security perspective. Globally, one-third of food is lost or wasted before it is consumed. To combat food waste, the USDA recently developed new guidelines for food product labels to encourage the use of a standard “Best if Used By” date, which is expected to reduce the amount of edible food that is disposed.
 
Advancements and innovations in packaging and labeling will also help minimize waste throughout the supply chain and after purchase. For example, smart packaging has been introduced that monitors food decay and can ensure fresh food products have been stored at the proper temperature, alerting consumers when food becomes inedible. Additionally, new smart labels for fresh foods change colors to indicate the freshness of food products, providing consumers assurance that food is still safe to eat—or encouraging them to quickly use a product.

Supporting the Circular Economy – Designing Packaging with Resource Conservation in Mind
There is growing pressure on food and beverage companies to incorporate circular economy principles into product packaging. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “a circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.” Renewable materials play a big role here.
 
To this end, Tetra Pak ensures its renewable materials, including wood and sugarcane, come from traceable, sustainable sources. This includes wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) as coming from well-managed forests and sugarcane certified by Bonsucro as being sustainably farmed and milled.
 
More and more, companies are identifying opportunities to preserve and enhance natural capital, optimize the use and value of resources, and foster efficiency throughout the value chain. Switching to packaging made from renewable materials, and relying on reputable third-party organizations to ensure standards are met, is one way companies can limit their environmental impact.

Enhancing Sorting Technology for Recyclables Processing
Packaging manufacturers and brand owners will continue to work directly with recyclers to improve the compatibility of their packaging in recycling systems—both with respect to packaging design as well as new sorting and processing technologies. Material recovery facilities and other processors are working to improve sorting efficiencies via the use of robotics, artificial intelligence, and automated material classification systems, which are already in use but are continuously being improved.
 
Click here to read the full article, “Making Packaging Do More for the Environment: Trends to Watch for in Food and Beverage Packaging,” on CSRwire.
 

 

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