In his report, ‘Food innovation never goes to waste’, Paul Bosch, analyst F&A supply chains, Rabobank, said companies can save up to €10bn by using new approaches to reducing food waste such as investing in machinery to harvest greater volumes, whilst reducing bruising or damage to crops; better use of packaging to protect against damage, and monitoring produce to give producers information about food freshness.
Multitray Fruit Saver
“Packaging that protects against damaging is especially important in the fruit and vegetable sectors, think of avocado’s as an example and the Multitray fruit saver, a ‘suspended packaging tray’ using a plastic clamshell during transportation,” he said.
“Other examples are PerfoTec, which controls respiration of fresh fruit and vegetables by adjusting perforation. This extends the shelf life of food and the companies that use it have seen a 50% reduction in food waste.
“It’sFresh manages the concentration of ethylene, a ripening hormone produced by fruits and vegetables with its filters and sheets which contain a patented mix of minerals and clay to remove ethylene from the packaged product.
"There are several retailers and packers who have tested these innovations, UK supermarket, Tesco is one of them.”
L&M Companies recyclable cabbage box
Other protective packaging manufacturers include FDS Manufacturing Company, Earthbound Farm, which has switched to 100% post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastic for all clamshell packages and IFCO Systems' reusable plastic container.
L&M Companies has made a recyclable cabbage box, an alternative to wax cascaded packaging, NNZ Spud Shade anti-greening potato bag, Progreso Produce Onion Bag Strategy and YottaMark MicroBaker traceable labels, to name a few.
“The biggest challenge for manufacturers is to invest in this business because the environment can be very competitive and focused on price,” added Bosch.
“Many of these techniques have a payback period of less than three years, but you have to be sure your supplier sees the value in the innovation and will continue to buy your product for a number of years, which is not always the case.”
He added while the initial benefit of implementing innovation is reducing waste, there are other benefits for processors such as improving product consistency, enhancing inventory management, lower purchasing costs and logistical flexibility (being able to transport over greater distances).
“Companies will have to understand how it helps them, and some will have more advantages than others. For instance, it will become easier to ship products over greater distances, but if you don’t have the sales capacity in that area, it will not help you,” he said.
“In reference to monitoring the freshness of a product, RFID (radio frequency) tags signal the quality of a product (ie temperature and O2/CO2 concentration). When this is monitored it can be combined with dynamic pricing, so that products which almost expire can be sold first.”