This year has seen some major food packaging innovations so far.
But do they have the potential to revolutionise the market or are they just fleeting stars? Ahead of the major Packaging Innovations show in London, Digital Creative Packaging chose the top 8 packaging innovations in the food and drink industry.
Plastic see-through cans
Canned food packaging is finally seeing some change this year. Transparent plastic cans could be the metal cans of tomorrow. While providing all advantages metal cans have, they are surely more of an eye-catcher on the shelf. Consumers prefer to get a glimpse of their product before buying it. See-through cans give products a feeling of freshness and are able to preserve food just as well as metal.
Packaging with interactive screens
A new way of displaying information on paper packaging could truly revolutionise the packaging industry. With this technology, it would be possible to include a countdown timer on the side of a pack to indicate when a timed product is ready. How does this work? Electronic tracks have to be printed onto paper before low-cost electronics and a polymer LED display is fixed to it. Electricity is generated by a special adhesive. We see the home-baking market making use of this innovation.
Compostable plastic packaging
Recyclability of food packaging is a major topic of interest for consumers. With the launch of compostable plastic packaging in the UK, a huge step in environmental protection has been taken. These see-through bags can definitely compete with popular flexible packaging solutions. They are just as durable and can be used for dry, baked and frozen goods, as well as fruits and vegetables. Of course, the bags can also be laminated and labelled. As flexible packaging cannot be recycled, compostable plastic bags have a major advantage. Flexible packaging can provide various functionalities and can be used for pre-cooked food as well. Still, we believe that this innovation can shape the future of plastic packaging. In a few years, we might even see compostable flexible packaging on shelf…
Smart bioplastic packaging
Plant-based bioplastic packaging will soon be available on the market. Not only is it environmentally friendly and extends the product’s shelf-life, this food packaging is also smart. It contains a sensor which notifies retailers and consumers of when the food inside is no longer safe to eat. The sensor checks, for example, check whether the temperature of the food is right or if a product has soured. Something to consider – If the sensor is installed inside the packaging, it will have to be approved by food hygiene authorities. We think this food packaging is truly smart, but it still has a long way to go before it is ready for the mass market.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is no futuristic dream – self-heating packaging is already available on the market. How does this even work? The packaging consists of several layers, including an air-activated ration heater. On top of the packaging film layer, there’s a removable heater activation label. Pull it off to trigger a controlled reaction to release heat from the packaging. So far, it is used for melting chocolate. Yet this food packaging could also be extremely useful for a hot meal on the go. The packs are custom-designed in terms of size, shape and temperature to align with specific requirements. For us, this innovation has the potential to truly revolutionise the food market.
New types of flexible packaging
Flexible packaging has become more and more popular over the years, especially in the food and drink industry. Now, flexible packaging has moved to new types of products. This innovation merges a wedge-shaped pouch with a flip-top dispensing closure. It can be used for toppings, such as cream or salad dressings, and is easy to use for all age groups. The pouch stands on the cap, which displays better on shelf compared with tubes, for example. Another new and rather unconventional type of flexible packaging are teapot-shaped pouches. They can be used for liquids like food oils, broths or fruit drinks. Although these new pouch formats are truly innovative, they still have to prove themselves in the market.
Fully resealable film lids
Fruits and vegetables as well as frozen foods are often packed in plastic boxes with film lids. Once the lids are opened or removed, the food inside quickly loses its freshness. Although there have been resealable solutions on the market for a while, only a small window within the lid could be resealed up till now. Yet there has been some innovation in this part of the packaging industry. Film lids can now be opened almost completely and resealed multiple times. This makes it easier to preserve leftovers. On top of that, the see-through lids are printable and can be used as additional advertising space. With consumers being more concerned about food waste, this is a packaging innovation that will quickly become a standard in the food industry.
Innovative food-to-go solutions
Food-to-go has grown popular and there still seems to be no end in sight for this trend. No wonder that food-to-go packaging has also seen some innovations this year. One of the outstanding packaging innovations in food-to-go is a dual-ovenable pot consisting of CPET with a paperboard cover and lid. The ready meal pots can be heated and are fully recyclable. Convenient and eco-friendly seem to go very well together.
Summing up the packaging innovations we’ve seen in 2016 so far, technology seems to play a major role in the future of food packaging. In order to stand out on shelf, engaging with the customer through packaging seems to be the obvious solution. At the same time though, recyclability and sustainability gain more importance in packaging. With degradable plastic packaging and self-heating packaging in the market, what will be next?
If you decide to develop a more innovative packaging solution to pack your product, we will gladly support you in adapting your designs to the new format – or we’ll just create new ones, if you feel it’s time for a change. Our experts are always staying up-to-date with latest industry trends, so why not give us a call?
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