According to statistics, one in nine people on the planet suffer from hunger, and 98 per cent of these people live in countries where over 40 per cent of food gets lost after harvest, not least because it is poorly packaged.

But food loss is not confined to developing countries but also affects industrialised nations. In Germany, 42 per cent of food waste is caused by private households, 39 per cent at the point of production through overproduction, or non-processed components. 14 per cent of food loss occurs in gastronomy and five per cent in retail.

„We welcome the initiative of Germany’s minister for nutrition, Julia Klöckner, which aims towards halving the amount of food thrown away by 2030,“ says Kim Cheng, managing director of the German packaging institute (dvi) in Berlin.

“Packaging is the means of choice in order to protect food and maintain quality. Modern packs have continued to improve storability and shelf life. Innovations in the area of active or intelligent packaging can further expand on these capabilities. Furthermore, these packs can communicate with consumers in a precise and comprehensible way, inform them about the quality of goods and remind them to consume them in time. It is also important that consumers can check the quality and freshness of a product from the outside. If they first have to open the pack to check, the protective atmosphere is lost, and the food goes off quicker. But it’s not just consumers but also retail set to benefit from intelligent packaging, as they’ll be able to check the state of food in a continuous and simple way.”

A key point for large scale use of intelligent packaging functions is that they are suitable for recycling.

„The indicators attached on or integrated into the pack either should be made from the same material as the rest of the packaging, so that they can be recycled together. Alternatively they should be easily separated from the pack, so that they then can be recycled separately, “ says Kim Cheng.

dvi is pleased about political incentives encouraging an increased use of intelligent packaging solutions.

“The packaging industry is highly innovative. Intelligent and active packaging solutions have been available for years and some of them have been widely used for products such as fruit and vegetables. For example, with apple boxes, a special corrugated board is used which absorbs and neutralises ethylene, a ripening gas from apples. This way, fruit and vegetables can be stored for longer, and one rotten apple cannot contaminate others.”