The three-day event saw consumer packaged goods (CPG) leaders discuss the evolving retail and branding market taking place within the industry and saw guests including Sealed Air, Amcor, Unilever, and TerraCycle.
Reducing loss during distribution
Speaking about food waste, Yasmin Siddiqi, packaging global marketing director, DuPont, said while meat is not one of the most wasted foods, it does have a significant environmental and economic impact.
“On average, nearly 50lbs of greenhouse gas is emitted for every pound of beef that reaches a typical consumer’s kitchen. So what does that mean? When you throw away just one pound of meat because it turned brown or smells bad, you’re throwing away 50 pounds of greenhouse gas – about the same impact as burning 3 gallons of gasoline without going anywhere,” she said.
“One answer is to use high performance resins that seal through grease. This helps ensure packaged meat stands up to the rigors of transport, reducing loss during distribution.
“Another is using shrink films and barrier shrink bags to replace tray-and-lid products. These can keep the meat fresh longer, lower overall cost and reduce packaging waste.
“While shrink bags were historically used to transport meat on the bone from the slaughterhouse to retailers or restaurants, the trend now is to use shrink bags for supermarket consumer packaging because they improve color, reduce odor and help meat maintain its texture - all while reducing packaging waste.”
When Siddiqi asked her audience of 150 attendees: ‘What’s holding back our efforts to reduce food waste?’ nearly half said ‘consumer perception of packaging’ with the balance split between ‘ambiguity in terms of overall goals’ and ‘affordability/cost’.
Extending shelf life
“The packaging industry is well-positioned to prevent food losses and waste – we need to amplify the positive impact we can have on this challenge to help break down some of those negative perceptions,” she said.
Packaging, according to attendees, can best mitigate food waste by extending shelf life, 43%; protecting the contents, 36%; facilitating freshness, 17% and by helping ensure appropriate portions, 4%.
“Food waste occurs in all areas of the supply chain and requires a collaborative collective effort to identify hot spots, evaluate corrective actions and educate accordingly,” added James Downham, president/CEO, PAC, Packaging Consortium.
According to Siddiqi, as we collaborate on packaging that protects food and keeps it fresher longer, we need to find materials that are affordable. This is critical when working on projects that serve developing regions.
For example, in India, where 75% of milk is collected in an ‘unorganized’ fashion, the risk of buying contaminated or adulterated milk is high, she said.
“Parakh Agro Industries in India saw an opportunity to develop a low-cost method to package ultra-high temperature (UHT) processed milk in aseptic flexible film pouches,” Siddiqi added.
Five-layer EVOH technology
“This is a very affordable five-layer EVOH technology that helps ensure milk stays fresh without refrigeration for 90 days.
“This innovation earned a gold award in the 26th DuPont awards for packaging Innovation and Vinay Nalawade, director of packaging, Parakh Agro Industries, said their aim is to ensure nutritious milk can be received in cities and in remote areas across the country.
“The wide geographical area and unavailability of good, refrigerated transportation led them to think differently about the challenge and to come up with a product where the pouch does not need refrigeration and the milk does not require boiling after the pouch is open.
“They believe this will change the lives of many people in the outlying areas and significantly reduce the amount of milk that is spoiled during transport.”
In conclusion, Siddiqi said all manufacturers know food security is a complex issue, involving a range of dimensions across the food value chain from production to marketing and called for ‘transformational change’ to succeed in meeting the enormous challenges ahead.
PAC, Packaging Consortium is a not-for-profit corporation that includes over 2,100 members throughout the packaging value chain.
The PAC, Packaging Consortium three-day “A Day in the Life” event was held in Toronto, Canada from September 30-October 2.