US packaging innovation centre set up
Scott Whiteside, associate professor of packaging science and the associate director at the university’s Center for Flexible Packaging (CEFPACK), said that Cryovac plans to bring its customers to the centre to develop new retort pouch products.
He said the company also expects to produce market samples of institutional sized retort pouches in the laboratory, utilizing their Flavour Mark Retort Pouch system.
“Cryovac will conduct research that they will fund and the outcomes will be exclusive to them.
“However, our department plans to utilize these new facilities to further advance the technology and research efforts in the retort pouch area,” said Whiteside.
He claims that it is imperative that food packaging systems be developed that can both optimise space and extend a product’s shelf life due to the distance that food products often have to travel before they reach the consumer.
Whiteside explained that the department has a long history of collaboration with the packaging industry on various projects:
“We have over 30 packaging related companies who have participated in CEFPACK over the last four years. We also have also over 70 companies that make use of our package transport testing programme,” he said.
He told FoodProductionDaily.com that the packaging science students benefit from having the opportunity to experience new packaging technology ‘first hand’.
According to Whiteside, combining forces with industry on projects allows the students the chance to see the practical application of the knowledge they receive in the classroom:
“Since packaging science is an applied science, it is imperative that we focus much of our research efforts on industry specific problems and needs.”
Cost efficient research
He said that, in recent years, many companies have had to reduce their research budgets and facilities, thereby limiting their ability to conduct internally the research needed to complete in the global marketplace: “Laboratories such as the Flavour Mark Retort unit allow companies access to these facilities and faculty expertise for fraction of the cost,” said Whiteside.
He added that several of the companies the university has worked with have discovered that the creativity generated at the university is a major benefit for their product development.