At the latest edition of Fruit Logistica, Future Lab, Jeffrey Brandenburg, president of JSB, gave a conference entitled “Ground-breaking solutions in Convenience Packaging”, in which he addressed the various innovations, ideas and developments in the world of packaging for fresh produce.
First and foremost, Jeffrey stated that “packaging should be understood as a technology platform, as in addition to meeting its intended use, it can extend the product’s shelf life, or provide quality optimisation. Packaging can also help in ensuring sustainability and food safety, which has become the number one challenge for the fresh produce industry, from both a technological and economic standpoint.”
In terms of market differentiation and brand recognition, packaging is acquiring an increasingly important role. “It provides a pristine opportunity to drive the message home about who you are and what your brand’s statement is,” says Jeffrey.
Furthermore, “when looking at innovative packaging technologies, their goal is not just to extend shelf life, but mostly to optimise quality.”
In this sense, Jeffrey assures that a key parameter to take into account when designing modified atmosphere packaging is temperature, which serves to reinforce the idea that “good post-harvest cold chain management is also a huge factor in the optimisation of produce packaging.”
To achieve this optimisation, one must take into account each product’s defining characteristics. “Carrots transpire at a different rate than cucumbers, which in turn transpire at a different rate than aubergines or lamb’s lettuce, so you can’t expect these different living organisms to go into the same package,” explains Jeffrey.
Contributing towards improving the future of packaging, we have companies like Mocon, which manufactures sensing equipment to test headspace in packages and transmission rates in films, and which, according to Jeffrey “is now in the process of introducing a technology able to measure permeation through micro-perforations, which is a tremendous step forward.”
Another key parameter in the development of produce packaging is moisture management, especially when temperature variations occur. “One of the big challenges we have is that most packaging materials are very good moisture barriers; to this end, films are being developed that allow for higher vapour and moisture transmission rates,” states Jeffrey.
In addition to these, there are also new developments intended to improve aspects such as food safety or odour management, which reinforce the idea introduced earlier of packaging as a technology platform. “You have a sustainability component, the ability for high graphics or the capacity to modify the breathability of the punnet itself,” affirms Jeffrey.
Another big trend in the berry, whole fruit and whole veg market is the use of re-sealable packaging. There is also a lot of work being done on packaging with antimicrobial and absorbent properties. Jeffrey explains that “being able to work at nano level has significantly contributed to increase the efficacy of these products.”
To conclude, Jeffrey stresses the relevance of sustainability, illustrated by the development of a new film made from a material that will be fully compostable and biodegradable. “A lot of sustainable packaging is not compatible with the modified atmosphere or moisture transmission aspects we have previously addressed, but this one coming down the road will make it possible. These are thus exciting times for the packaging industry.”
All in all, “If you can’t look at your packaging supplier as a resource for innovation and looking to the future, they are doing you a disservice. Packaging must be a fundamental part of new product development and suppliers must be allowed to take an active part in this process; that is the way to take advantage of new advances and technologies,” concludes the president of JSB.
For more information:
Jeffrey S Brandenburg
The JSB Group, LLC
Publication date: 2/9/2015
Author: Heather Goulooze