Can Packaging Help Reduce Food Waste?

16 May 2024 Peak Recruitment

Food packaging

There was a time when packaging in the food industry was designed simply to enhance product shelf-life, promote the brand and entice the target market to buy. Current demands on packaging design means there is a whole lot more expectations. Sustainability and environmental issues are top of the list.

Growing Demands on Food Packaging

In the high-tech 21st century a company is expected to clarify the ingredients of any food package within, state when the food product needs to be eaten by, how it can be stored and, where possible, offer a safe method for preparation. In many countries, the design guidelines which once just made good marketing sense have now become a legal requirement.

On top of this, and some would say, most importantly of all, businesses in the food industry especially need to be aware how the packaging they use for their products may affect the environment and make necessary adaptions.

Confronting Food Waste

When considering environmental issues, there is a tendency to think only about how man-made materials are affecting the planet. But it is also a fact that the type of packaging businesses produce in the food and agriculture industry could well have a marked impression on confronting food waste itself. And food waste continues to be a huge problem in itself – not just in South Asia – but across the globe.

Only too often even within small communities we can see malnutrition living alongside an abundance of food. Studies suggest that 1.3 billion tonnes of food go to waste every year while we all turn a communal blind eye to the starving. Each extreme has an effect on the other.

Business and Environmental Issues Are Interlinked

As populations across the world continue to grow, access to good food should always be at a premium, but it is not merely a moral and environmental issue. When food goes to waste, enterprise suffers. Brand owners and retailers suffer when food does not even reach the consumers plate as the food and the production costs go to waste. Within the supply chain the food product gets no further than the retailers’ shelves. For the businessman, this clearly has a detrimental effect on profits. For all of these reasons’ companies worldwide, and especially those in South Asia, are attempting to hold back the problems of food waste and packaging could well hold the solution.

In Singapore, a partnership between the Singapore Environment Council and Deloitte found that each household in the country throws away an estimated S$258 of unconsumed foods annually. Singapore are striving to be a zero-waste nation. 2019 has been designated as the “Year Towards Zero Waste”

Streamlining the Supply Chain

Due to changing eating habits in the modern world, more food waste occurs at the consumer stage of the supply chain. This is largely because of the consumers demands for greater variety, the need for constant, the number of platforms where food can be accessed, and the distances food has to travel across the globe.

Three important issues for manufacturer within the food industry supply chain then are shelf-life, storage and transport. Multi-portion packs, freezer packs and resealable packs all contribute to sales wasteful supply chain. The new way of vacuum packaging fresh food has been a real innovation. Flexible portion sizes take up less shelf space and necessarily extend shelf-life. At the other end of the production line this approach helps with inventory management and retail distribution. In South East Asian countries, there is an ever-growing middle class who can afford that little bit extra to pay for fresh food with higher safety and quality standards.

The aim of manufacturers is to extend their market reach for fresh foods using the newer technologies available such as CRYOVAC. There is likely to less product spoilage and an ability to distribute foods over an ever-increasing geographical area.

By investing new packaging technologies businesses within the food industry can not only make a profound effect on environmental and sustainability issues but they can also enhance in-house processes to increase annual profits.

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