The packaging industry has stressed the importance of the supply chain in response to a report that said as much as half of all food produced globally goes to waste.
INCPEN and LINPAC pinpointed the crucial role packaging plays throughout the supply chain and in transporting products worldwide.
The report ‘Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not’, from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said food waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers which encourage shoppers to buy more food than they need and consumer fussiness.
According to the study, between 1.2-2 billion tonnes out of four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year goes to waste.
It added consumers threw away 30-50% of the food they bought.
Understanding the role
Jane Bickerstaffe, director of INCPEN, told FoodProductionDaily.com the report exposed the problem but doesn’t go towards a solution.
“People have to understand the role of packaging in the supply chain. Some people don’t put two and two together because of packaging’s bad press but food waste is worse. It is an industry of constant innovation and improved technology. “It is about finding further value, some can be recycled and some burned to get energy.”
She added packaging through the chain is especially key for developing nations to maximise income from their productions.
“Developing countries need more sophisticated packaging, as well as the basics, so the product doesn’t get damaged in production.”
Packaging’s vital role
The research demonstrates the vital role packaging has to play in providing a solution to the problem, according to packaging innovation expert Alan Davey.
Davey, director of innovation at LINPAC Packaging, said: “This report demonstrates how important it is for retailers, food manufacturers and the packaging industry to work closer together to tackle this problem.
“It would not be wrong to say that if packaging was invented today it would be regarded as one of the greatest green technologies due to its protective and preserving qualities.
“Imagine a world without packaging; the manufacture, transport, distribution and consumption of virtually every consumer good would be impossible,” he said.
“Quality packaging can significantly reduce waste across the entire supply chain by giving food a longer shelf life and ensures food can be transported around the world safely and securely.”
Davey added it was essential that the products LINPAC develop respond to changing lifestyles and consumer concerns.
“Food waste and sustainable packaging is very much at the top of the agenda and we are committed to developing packaging solutions which are innovative, ground-breaking and capable of addressing the challenges of the future.”
Matt Parker at Zebra Technologies, headquartered in the US, said the majority of food waste is caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers from supermarkets and consumer attitudes.
“RFID and barcode technology can help improve the visibility of the food supply chain, making it traceable from the onset throughout the product lifecycle.
“It can also provide real-time information on the location, condition, and delivery time of products – even down to the item-level.”