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Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006


Packaging novelties

They are:

  • More or less new
  • More or less useful
  • More or less smart

There are innumerable clever innovations of all types, but all are well beyond the basic needs that have been fully covered for the last two or three decades.


Major new developments are based on the requirements by new food keeping processes, aseptic, UHT, MAP/CAP, that have evolved essentially to respond to the pressure of the distributors' chains.

For fresh, unprocessed products such as meat, poultry, fish, new films with oxygen barrier permit distributors' supermarkets to shift from back store packing to central pre-packaging at a few centers. The gain of two-three days of shelf life, or more, gives a margin of safety and helps the supermarkets' management. It also saves costs, not passed on to the customers.

In general, all surveys indicate that consumers shop at least once a week and do not leave foods more than one week in the refrigerator. Hence all longer keeping "fresh" products have been introduced to suit distribution' economics, not consumers' preference.

Among the many functions of packaging, major emphasis is now put on lengthening the life of food products for supermarket distribution.

Besides the new widespread MAP/CAP packaging and UHT, other food longer keeping processes are under study, but have not yet made commercial breakthroughs. It is unlikely that the revolutionary system of high pressure sterilization pioneered in Japan will have a significant impact in the next six to ten years, because of severe engineering requirements.

According to PIRA, in the UK, the development with the greatest likelihood of major expansion is the ohmic electrical resistance heating system, extensively tested in Europe and Japan. This food processing and/or heat sterilization technique is particularly appropriate for linking to aseptic systems, especially associated with FFS. This is pioneered by APV and Tetra Pak.

Rigid containers:

New barrier trays of XPS with coating of EVOH coex barrier film, on bottom and top, can double the fresh meat or fish shelf life with MAP process, from 2-3 days, up to 10 days.

Peelable and reclosable aluminium lids on cans for dry groceries
(Alcan Seam-Seal, Hoffmann Emballages from Switzerland, Continental Can Europe for coffee cans).

Growing interest for stackable steel cans and containers.


Easier opening for all, on bottles and jars.
Child resistant closures for dangerous products.
Pumps for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals getting smaller and smaller, airless systems, finer spraying.
Tamper-evidence, on bottles, jars, all packages, (International Paper Spoutpack, an aseptic carton with a tamper-evident reclosable spout).
Easy peeling and reclosing on trays.
Zippers on plastic bags for frozen foods, grated cheese, dried food, dry pet food, snack food.
Resealable bags for all types of food products to be used more than once.

Miscellaneous and farfetched innovations:

Coffee cups that warm, Nestlé with Thermotic Developments launched a self-heating can for coffee, in 2001, the can is supplied by Crown Cork. There are similar products on the market, like Baritalia, in Italy, heating-shaking individual expresso cups with salt crystals, Zestho Therm in US and Canada, Ontro in the US that reportedly has projects for Europe with RPC Containers.

Soft drink containers that cool, like Fraich'Up, developed by Sofrigam and the French CNRS, to keep cool, or several other routes developed in the US (Siegel, etc.)

Talking packages, like the development of International Paper and PowerPaper, from Israel, for e-packages, batteries incorporated into the package, for high added value durables like video cassettes, to develop later for cosmetics and upscale food products. PowerPaper aims at a potential of 500 million e-packages within three years.

Cat food cans that purr on opening (an experience of the former CarnaudMetalbox, for promotion sales only).

Pressure "draught" beer in cans, with additional gas put into the closure with a "widget". The system has been developed in the UK for glass bottles.

Scent release devices. Avery Dennison Fasson Roll Europe is launching encapsulated fragrances in the adhesive labels. This is developed with the Swedish Printcom Etikett AB, a construction called Peel and Sniff, with 30 fragrances, from orange to sea breeze, even garlic.

Compacting products for smaller packages (tissues, diapers, textiles), using less shelf space. Collapsible PET bottles for easier disposal (Evian water).

Soluble films, PVOH, well developed, in 0.2 to 2 kg pouches, for non food products, for agriculture, cement additives, dyes, for easy dispersing in water.

Edible films, such as Enak in UK on carraghenane jellifier, Ensbana in France, with polysaccharide films on fresh apples, Chris Craft in the US with cold soluble films of edible cellulose polymers. There are many potential uses in prepared foods, for instance to, keep the fruit and dough separate in a pie, to keep it crisp.

Drink cups, Vittel water in Jagenberg FFS 25 and 33 cl, of PET or PP.

Smart packaging, with tell-tale coloring about limit dates, changes of temperature, shocks received, tamper evidence, self-scanning, magnetic ink recognition, laser marking, radio-frequency identification, RFI, to replace date coding, anti-theft devices, such as dye ampoule, electronic watch on the article, so-called intelligent tags, special devices to insure the traceability of the product and reassure customers. This was prompted by the mad cow scare, not ended with its devastating effect on plain meat consumption. This is developed by CEST (Center for the Exploitation of Science and Technology) in the UK, in the IPI (Integrated Product Intelligence), project, stating that a system of integrated product intelligence for the whole supply chain will be a powerful force in the next ten years.

Aluminium cans featuring thermochromic inks that change color from white to blue and reveal the words ready to serve (British Steel Tinplate Smart Can).

A PP tube with fat edges, inserted on the beverage can top to make the can into a glass from which to drink directly, Borden.

The package becomes the product, like the Squeez’n Shave travel Razor, of Hoke2, featuring three tubes of shaving gel from Libby Labs, three disposable razors, and a sleeve.

Development of oxygen adsorbers, already widespread in Japan, in over 1 billion packaging units, little elsewhere.

and many more innovations...



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