Packaging firms respond to the challenge of food waste

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Save food initiative, Food packaging industry, Packaging

Improved packaging in developing and developed countries is a key way to cut food waste.
Improved packaging in developing and developed countries is a key way to cut food waste.
Packaging companies have a key role to play in the battle to cut food waste, said Christian Traumann, president of the trade event Interpack 2011 and chief financial officer of Multivac.

Speaking at the Save Food Congress, staged at Interpack in Dusseldorf, Germany, Traumann said: “Global food wastage is one of the most pressing problems of our age.

"The food packaging industry can make a valuable contribution to reducing the wastage of food.”

Appropriate packaging strategies help to protect food along the value chain and to make food available to more people. “Packaging preserves food, protects it from physical damage and temperature influences and makes it transportable​,” he said

In developing countries, packaging offers a particularly important way of keeping foods fresh for longer so facilitating transport and trade over long distances.

Smart packages

In developed countries, packaging cuts food waste both by consumers and retailers, said Traumann. Smart packages will play an increasingly important role in alerting food processers and consumers to the status of the food the contained in the package.

Werner Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Dusseldorf, organisers of Interpack added: “The central issue here is that the sheer amount of crops that spoil on farms or still useable food that we throw away, would be enough on its own to feed those people who go hungry. In both these scenarios, packaging can help​.”

Dornscheidt said he hoped that the Save Food initiative would encourage small efficient packaging factories in remote rural areas in developing countries to identify new profitable business opportunities.

A joint statement from packaging companies supporting the Save Food initiative confirmed: “The packaging industry offers the expertise for combating food losses with sustainable packaging strategies throughout the entire value chain. With appropriate packaging, it will be possible to supply a growing world population with food​.”

The statement also highlighted the conservation of resources through packaging protective function including hygienic and mechanical safeguarding, protection from spoiling and improved transport potential.

Western consumers also have key role to play in cutting waste, said Dornscheidt. “Over abundance breeds a throw-away mentality and people lose all sense of respect for food​.”

Deadlines for disposal

Congress moderator Melinda Crane added: “Too often in western economies, sell-by dates are seen as deadlines for disposal​.”

Meanwhile, a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report presented at the congress confirmed that one third (1.3bn tonnes) of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted.

The report, commissioned from the Swedish Institute of Food Production and Biotechnology, recommended further research to understand the nature of the losses and the cost of prevention.

In developing countries up to 40 per cent of food spoils before it reaches the consumer.

In Europe, 30 per cent of all food is throw-away.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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1 comment

Intentional Food Wastage to be treated as an Unbailable Criminal Offence!

Posted by Rajesh Khandelwal, Mumbai,

Dear Friends! If you see some recent articles in Indian News papers they will show how India is wasting millions of tons of food grains by not having adequate storage and warehousing facilities at Government Food Corporations. Will the International community put pressure on it to stop this wastage. Ministers ask government to selectively open up food exports in sectors which benefit them or their constituencies, why don't they also suggest to levy an export & import cess to build food storage facilities in India?

UN must legislate a rule to punish or put sanctions on all sovereign governments in its organisation which do not take effective steps to stop food wastage immediately.

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