UK company ValueForm – which has created food packs made from straw – says it wants to lead a change in supermarket and food retail packaging.
The company, which plans to have its 100% straw pizza discs on supermarket shelves later this year, wants to see the industry move away from plastic and paper to more sustainable but economically competitive products.
Making eco-friendly packaging attractive to supermarkets and big producers is the only way products can have a real impact, it says.
Jaydeep Korde, founder, ValueForm, told FoodProductionDaily.com the company has been working on creating packaging which offers environmental credentials, costs the same (or is cheaper) than paper or plastic, and offers the same technical characteristics.
“It has too: otherwise no one in the supply chain is going to move,” he said.
“ValueForm is about meeting or beating the price of the product we’re looking to replace. It’s the nature of the supermarket business.
"I think it’s the place we can make the most impact – we’re passionate about getting rid of over-engineered, environmentally unfriendly products - and that involves acknowledging how entrenched existing supply chains are.”
100% straw pizza discs
Research began in 2003, but it was only three years ago that ValueForm moved into a commercial phase. The company already supplies disposable hospital products for the NHS (National Health Service), and is working on egg-boxes to follow the launch of its pizza discs.
Korde said the one of the challenges in creating food packaging had been to meet high levels of food safety standards. A product also needs to be comparable to conventional packaging in terms of strength.
“We’ve had some really favourable feedback with a supermarket and the supply chain,” said Korde. “We’ve seen a whole bunch of advantages, in terms of strength, and its single use.”
As well as providing end products to customers, the company wants to transform the global paper pulp moulding industry. Using ValueForm technology, manufacturers can switch to straw, and use existing infrastructure to make their own packaging.
Many ecologically friendly packaging options come with a higher price point and are limited to high-end products where people are prepared to pay extra for these credentials. However, Korde wants to take on a mass market.
“The bulk scale is part of the economic model, for us, volume and scaling up is factored in,” he said.
Korde added the key to developing its products has been working alongside supermarkets to understand what will work well in the market.
“There’s no point in innovating and trying to do that all on your own, and then say here is a product. You’ve got to bring them in earlier and understand the supply chain and marketing.”