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JV for antimicrobial packaging coatings that could extend shelf life by ‘months’

By Joe Whitworth , 22-Jun-2012

Oplon has partnered with Reynolds Group to create antimicrobial coatings for their packaging which could extend shelf life of products by months and will be commercially available within the next two years.

The length of the shelf life that each coating can offer varies on the food, the method of application, such as injecting or spraying, and the type of packaging it is applied to but Oplon claim they can engineer how long it lasts based on these factors.

The collaboration over 18 months to three years is “likely” to lead to Oplon-treated packages for US-based Reynolds across multiple brands and categories including fresh meat, liquid food and beverages.

Oplon is a materials sciences company which develops novel anti-microbial materials that they claim “are effectively surfaces that kill microbes in a safe way.”

Market-ready in 18 months

Ronen Melnik, chairman of Oplon, told FoodProductionDaily.com some coatings could be ready within 18 months, while others could take longer to fully develop.

Many of the current solutions to fight spoilage organisms changes the flavour and nutritional properties of the foods and beverages we consume.

“Industrial processing of food, and the lengthening of delivery systems, has driven solutions which must extend shelf life, but this has come at a cost, both in terms of the product nutrition, and in terms of environmental impact.

“By offering packaging that itself reduces spoilage we can improve the products and reduce costs at the same time.”

Even more exciting are the opportunities in developing markets, said Melnik.

In many parts of the world, where chilled supply chains are non-existent the food value chain is very inefficient and suffers from high spoilage rates.

“Imagine if we can offer a packaging solution that can extend shelf life of fresh meat by just a few days. The entire business system in large parts of Africa and Asia could completely change.”

The Israel-based firm added they were working with safe materials for food contact but would seek regulatory approval when each specific coating was developed. 

Industrial scale solution

When asked about the end goal of the partnership, Melnik said: “To deliver an industrial scale solution to applying Oplon's materials to packages, for specific products and needs.

“Oplon's solution is complex and requires tailoring to the specific needs of food manufacturers, in some cases per food or beverage type.

“Also coating cartons, bottles, films at very large scale requires the two companies to work together to integrate the coating materials into the exiting manufacturing processes.”

The agreement will focus on the development, industrialisation and commercialisation of novel antimicrobial packaging for fresher, better tasting products with longer shelf lives.

It includes an evaluation period, followed by development and adaptation to Reynolds manufacturing processes.

Oplon need industrialization expertise through partnerships in each packaging category and application area in order to turn materials into specific products, explained Melnik.  

“We approached Reynolds as they are the ideal partner in terms of breadth of packaging categories (paperboard, flexible, HPDE, closures, films) and also the innovativeness and commitment to bringing new technologies into the market.

“We initiated contact with two of their companies, and the relationship quickly escalated to the holding group level in order to form a broader relationship.

“Having access to our technology can bring clear differentiation for them, and significant value add to their customers.”

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