Increasingly demanding requirements from food manufacturers and their consumers mean that packaging is becoming progressively 'smarter'. Active or intelligent packaging is a sector which continues to grow in size, with expansion driven by new applications and innovation. Jonathan Thomas reports.
Many areas of the global food industry now feature active and intelligent packaging. Although this covers a multitude of different areas, the sector is best described as a specific type of packaging capable of controlling or reacting to what is going on inside the container. Active/intelligent packaging offers numerous benefits, ranging from extending the shelf-life of certain products to controlling temperature and moisture levels inside containers.
Most estimates agree that the active and intelligent packaging sector is growing in size. According to data from BCC Research, the global active and intelligent packaging market rose from US$6bn in 2008 to US$7.6bn in 2011, with a figure of US$8.7bn forecast for 2013. If a broader definition incorporating other forms of controlled packaging is used, global market value increases to nearer US$20bn. Some of the world's largest markets include the US, Japan, the UK, Germany and Australia.
Although the active and intelligent sector still accounts for just 2% of the global packaging market at present, further growth in market value is expected. According to a spokesperson from Linpac Packaging, this is due to "the convenience trend, the need to extent shelf-life and reduction of waste". The market is also set to benefit from growing concerns over food safety, with more legislation expected in this area.