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Colour-changing label set for mid-2013 launch, says Insignia Technologies

By Joe Whitworth, 12-Nov-2012

Related topics: Safety & Regulation

The firm behind a colour-changing label has told FoodProductionDaily.com that its first product will launch commercially next year aimed at boosting food safety.

Insignia Technologies product changes colour when exposed to external influences such as oxygen, UV light and humidity levels and said it will be trialed in UK supermarkets early next year.

Novas Embedded Label is incorporated into a film lid and activated when the consumer opens the packet and triggers a timer to show a strong colour change as the food within loses freshness.

The label is aimed at cold meats and cheese but the firm said it could function with anything flushed with CO2, with the demand for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). 

Colour-changes

The first generation starts light yellow and when it becomes CO2 activated it turns dark purple. The firm said it was currently looking at the variations in between and they would need to be ‘obvious’ before they are taken to market.

The technology was developed through a Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Programme, carried out at the University of Strathclyde in 2010.

Stephen Currie, chief operating officer Insignia Technologies, told this publication that they plan to have a commercial product ready for May 2013.

“We have made inroads, we are established at BioCity with a laboratory and two offices and we plan to launch by next year the colour-changing label which is our main product.

We have an ambitious growth plan of £5m revenue within three years and by 2017 an annual turnover of £40m.”

BioCity, based in Scotland, is a research and development facility including processing and storage.

2013 trial

Currie added that the firm has a trial early next year with major UK retailers and supermarkets.

“We will target the UK first but there are already three US based retailers interested and French and German retailers, so we will go in that order before looking to expand globally.” 

The firm launched in August 2012 as a result of a merger between the intelligent inks business Insigniapack and a spin-out company from the University of Strathclyde (Novas Technologies) which was the result of a successful project looking at smart plastics for the food industry.

Insigniapack previously developed a range of intelligent inks for use as sensors in food packaging, while Novas Technologies are experts in smart pigment technology.

The film from Insignia Technologies goes to the label converter and is incorporated when they make the top film, making it easier for the food packer.

“There are other technologies out there, we know that, but our patented integration of labels into the packaging offer extra value for the retailer.”

When asked what the aim was for the labels, he said: “Every CO2 product to include a Novas embedded level, it might be that not everyone takes it up, but it will help improve food safety and avoid unnecessary food waste.”

The firm has a range of other products, including two based on food safety and diverting waste away from landfill.

Novas CO2 Indicator Pigment is a specialized pigment for use in plastic packaging which shows a clear colour change when packaging has been damaged on products packed in a modified atmosphere.

Waste Watch Food Fresh indicators can be applied in home and change colour over time to act as a visual reminder that food may be past its best.