Packaging innovations to cut food waste - WRAP

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Packaging

Packaging, manufacture and storage innovations are at the heart of new research projects in the UK to cut damage to food and drink products throughout the supply chain and reduce waste.

Key players in the food industry such as Tesco, Premier Foods and Asda have teamed up with research bodies in a bid to develop new category-specific innovations in packing, storage, distribution and retail to reduce damage to food produce. The scheme is being coordinated by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) as part of its strategy to minimise food and drink waste. Earlier this year, the Government said £10bn worth of food is squandered annually in the UK.


One initiative aims to quantify food and packing waste in the supply chain caused by sub-optimal chill chain management. It is hoped the study can produce recommendations for chill chain users to improve temperature control. A key element of the project, run by Campden BRI, Asda and DuPoint Tejin Films, will investigate the effectiveness of new packing materials in protecting chilled food from temperature variations.

Martin George, of Campden BRI, said: “Within the chilled food sector, much of the food (and associated packaging) waste comes from poor temperature control, which can occur in any one of the many component parts of the chilled food supply chain. This project will quantify the extent of the problem and provide invaluable guidance to the chilled food manufacturer, retailer and consumer on the best practices to manage chilled food temperatures.”

Vacuum packing in meats

Another area to be examined is improving vacuum packaging to cut both meat and packing waste. It will look at offering greater flexibility in pack and portion sizes, as well as better use of materials and information to consumers.

The project, being delivered by Giraffe Innovation, the Co-Operative and Vion UK, will assess present vacuum packed formats and then suggest improvements through use of alternative materials, designs and better use of materials. Enhanced printing technologies and production processes, in-store formats and cost and supply chain analysis will also be examined.

The scheme aims to develop a business case for the new designs, including assessing the potential to transfer the designs to a wide range of meat products and potentially to other food categories.

“This challenging project will socially engineer a change in user behaviour through innovative packaging design.”​ Rob Holdway said. “Ultimately, this will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat waste and benefit consumers and retailers alike.”

Shrink wrapped fresh chickens

The reduction of food packing of whole, fresh chickens is another of the research studies. Adare and Somerfield are aiming to develop a new packaging format that uses flexible shrink wrap instead of traditional trays. This could cut packing by almost 75 per cent and eliminate the need for self-adhesive labels by printing directly onto the film, they said. Extension of product shelf-life by up to two days by using a high-barrier film in conjunction with gas-flushing is a further benefit claimed.

WRAP said results from the projects will be released later in 2009 and next year.

“This innovative research, which spans the entire supply chain through to the consumer, will reduce costs and waste for retailers and food manufacturers,”​ said Charlotte Henderson, Retail Supply Chain Programme Manager at WRAP.

Related topics Processing & packaging

Related news

Follow us


View more