Dispatch from Sial 2012

A future without packaging beckons

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The Sial Innovation zone
The Sial Innovation zone
The food industry could be approaching a time when packaging will be completely eliminated from the supply chain, according to Olivia Milan-Grobois, business unit director, Sial Group.

Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com at the end of the first day of the Sial 2012 food and drink exhibition at the Paris-Nord Villepinte exhibition centre, she said: “We are looking forward to a time when packaging will completely disappear.”

She referred to Wikicell Designs’ technology, which is being showcased at Sial this year. The approach draws its inspiration from nature, mimicking fruit such as bananas with their own natural skin. It seeks to combine food products with edible casing or packaging.

She acknowledged other exhibitors in the Sial Innovation zone that reflected the trend towards sustainable or reduced packaging. They included Cafés Malongo, which had just launched coffee in biodegradable pods.

Sustainable development

“We have many products insisting on sustainable development and production,”​ said Milan-Grobois.

Other manufacturers were taking the approach of launching packaging that extended the shelf life of products, she said. “French consumers waste €500 of food products a year each – 23kg a year per consumer.”

There was still a tremendous opportunity for the food and drink industry to tap into the demand to cut waste by extending shelf life, she said.

“This trend is not really taken into account by manufacturers yet. I’m sure we will have many more products with a ‘no waste’ message. This will be a new trend in the year to come.”

The current economic climate would play into this trend, added Milan-Grobois. The age of austerity meant consumers were seeking products that cut down on waste, thus saving them cash, she said.

‘Serious and efficient’

“The influence of the crisis on Sial Innovation is that we have had more useful innovations that bring real benefit to the consumer – innovations that are more serious and efficient.”

The Sial 2012 newsletter, which is distributed at the show, forecasts that one of the key trends in the future will be the drive to measure production against the environmental yardstick.

“Packaging is at the heart of these actions (restricting over-packaging, reducing packaging weight, utilising recyclable or recycled materials) as is logistics (pooling car fleets, use of biofuels, combining road and rail transport​),” it states.

Milan-Grobois said Sial 2012 had attracted 6,000 exhibitors. More than 140,000 visitors are expected to attend from 200 different countries.

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