The UK firm, based in Cumbria, has designed the labels with the help of Cambridge-based firm PragmatIC Printing, a pioneer in imprinted logic circuits.
Innovia announced that the firms had successfully integrated printed electronic functionality onto Innovia’s biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) label substrates).
The first prototypes are interactive bottle labels (pictured) that activate sequential flashing lights when bottles are held, but the firm said this was just one example of “numerous possibilities” for printable electronics within food and beverage labelling.
Food and beverage first
Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC Printing told this publication that there were a couple of other companies working in the same space (imprinted logic circuits) but that he believed this was a first within the food and beverage sphere.
He said the advantages of the product could be divided into two categories, brand owner attractions (flashing lights, lighted logos to attract consumer attention) and functional benefits.
This could include built-in decision circuits (already used within the pharmaceutical sector) to let you know a relevant dose based upon how (for instance) how old you were, White said.
Other advantages could include, for instance, a touch-sensitive button that, once pressed, counted down to illustrate cooking time, or time and temperature indicator (TTI)-based labels to indicate food freshness, he added.
Steve Langstaff, OPP Product Manager at Innovia Films told FoodProductionDaily.com that the products could “attract, inform or interact” with consumers via light and sound.
“It could inform. For example, an electronic price could change as a product nears its sell-by date. It could also interact. For example, with a person’s smartphone, to send them a message to let them know about special offers.”
Potential beyond beverage bottles
Langstaff said Innovia was “very confident” that there was sufficient market demand amongst food manufacturers and consumers for such products.
He said: “The increase in technology means more information for consumers and gives greater marketing power, making it more interesting. It will take some big end users to get the ball rolling.”
That said, Langstaff admitted that the labels would cost more, with price dependent on the different types of technologies used, from power to light and sound.
Accordingly, applications were likely to be seen in niche markets initially, he said. “But as the technology costs come down it will become more widely used in commodity markets.
“It will certainly go beyond beverage bottles as this prototype is just one example developed to show what the technologies could be used for,” Langstaff added.
“It is early days but printable electronics certainly have enormous potential, especially once the cost of components such as flexible batteries come down.”