The trend of shelf-stable packaging is around for quite a long time, and has revolutionized the world of packaging to a large extent. The innovation of nanotechnology-based packaging applications is the latest notable trend and it has proven to be immensely helpful in packaging of food products and beverages.
Researchers are consistently exploring novel applications of nanomaterials in packaging, and both – consumers and packaged food and beverage providers are enjoying the benefits. Ideal for extending shelf lives of fruits and vegetables, bakery and confectionary, meat products and fish, and beverages, nanotechnology-enabled packaging can is considered to be the future of packaging.
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Nano-enabled Packaging Safeguards Product Quality and Safety
With rising demand for fresh foods and beverages with extended shelf lives, the demand for advanced technology packaging technologies, such as nano-enabled packaging, is continuously on the rise since the past few years. Providing safer products with the same nutritional content remains the ultimate goal.
In contrary to traditional plastic packaging technique, nano-enabled packaging offers a sweeping range of benefits in terms of safety and food/beverage quality. To mention one of the top benefits, nano-enabled barrier packaging protects food products and beverages from water, vapor, carbon dioxide, and UV radiation.
Nano-enabled Packaging is Functional Packaging
Nano-enabled packaging of foods and beverages currently constitutes the largest portion of the entire nanotechnology applications industry. For enhanced functionality and improved mechanical properties, plastic polymers are incorporated or coated with nanotechnology-based materials. These plastic polymers are often coated with nano-clay, which collectively act as a gas barrier.
Moreover, plastic polymers with nano-zinc or nan-silver oxide are proven to have an antimicrobial action. Pathogen detection is one of the most notable applications of nano-enabled food and beverage packaging. A type of nano-packaging also involves nano-sensors, which sense environmental changes, such as temperature, time, and other atmospheric factors. Commercial packaging of perishable food products that need refrigeration, often have TTI – time-temperature indicators.
Active packaging can be oxygen scavenger packaging or controlled release packaging. The other type of nano-enabled packaging is intelligent packaging, which currently represents a rapidly growing segment.
Intelligent Packaging Offers Additional Benefits
Consumer shift to healthy diet regimen is one of the latest food industry trends within the recent past. As consumers are increasingly preferring fresh food/beverage alternatives against junk food items, the demand for reliable packaging technology is growing to a high extent. Intelligent packaging is ideal for fresh fruits and vegetables. It contains relevant product information, which makes food products/beverages clearly identifiable, traceable, and easily accessible for consumers. On the other side, it also facilitates international trade practices for manufacturers and retailers. Although active packaging technology has been is attracting higher market revenues, the intelligent packaging technology seems to be thriving at a much faster rate.
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Overall Market Dynamics
By the end of 2020, the global market for nano-enabled food and beverage packaging will reach hefty revenues of around US$ 15.0 billion. Although the market is currently in a nascent phase, new technological innovations and increasing adoption rate among manufacturers as well as consumers, are collectively driving the market to staggering growth prospects.
North America, the largest market for nanotechnology-enabled food and beverage packaging, is led by the U.S. that has been attracting the maximum revenues globally. Canada also represents a significant market. The market landscape is extremely competitive, and is operated by some of the key players, such as Amcor Limited, Bemis Company, Inc., Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, L.L.C., Klöckner Pentaplast, Sealed Air, and Tetra Pak International S.A.