Recent years have seen a boom in the e-commerce and the organised retail sectors in India, with the manifold increase of packaged food consumption, awareness and a demand for quality products. This, in turn, has seen a tremendous growth in packaging innovations across the country. Brands are catching up to the trend by using innovative packaging solutions to enhance consumers’ experience and increase the shelf appeal of their products.
Latest technologies in the packaging space like nanotechnology is gaining popularity in several areas of food sciences such as food safety, packaging, processing, bio-availability, fortification, encapsulation among others. With packaging, sustainability is another driver which plays a huge role in influencing companies and consumers to find innovative technologies for greener, more environmental friendly solutions. The global consensus to reduce negative environmental effects of packaging in conjunction with technological innovations have driven brands to reduce material usage, use recyclable material in packaging and develop the use of other sustainable materials.
Let’s examine some key trends in the Indian food & snack packaging market:
Shift To Flexible Packaging
The Packaging industry seems to be gravitating towards Flexible packaging owing to its multi-fold energy and environment benefits. Flexible packaging uses the best characteristics of plastic, paper & aluminium foil, without compromising on the products freshness, barrier protection, durability, printability and ease of use.
With its versatile nature, light weight, reduced cost and improved shelf life due to barrier properties, flexible packaging films have become the preferred choice over traditional packaging materials.
With the continuous increase in the availability of packaged food products in the market, it is extremely important for brands to use innovative packaging techniques which allows the inside product to remain fresh till the time it reaches the end consumer.
Packaging materials which have excellent barrier properties (Both Moisture and Oxygen) for example, have become an essential in product packaging, with examples like High Moisture Barrier Films (HMB), which are metalised and corona-treated on both sides for duplexes well as a sandwich layer for lamination in snack foods, where loss of moisture is a concern. Other options are Aroma and Oxygen Barrier Films; that have strong moisture and gas barrier properties and are used for packaging of cream biscuits, chocolates, chips and snacks.
Enhanced Shelf Appeal
When looking through retail shelves, consumers often run into a wide variety of similar products, which makes it really important for brands to make their products stand out from their competitors. Shelf appeal of the product is as important as its quality, and has become a key component for successful marketing. No matter how great the packaging type is, if it doesn’t appeal the consumers, it will fail. Flexible packaging for example, provides better aesthetics and also offers a better visibility of the product, allowing brand owners and product designers to think out-of-the-box.
Eye catching packaging designs gives a brand and the product its desired escalation in the minds of the consumer. Packaging textures like matte, velvet, scuff-free and linen give a premium texture and look to the products’ packaging, thus creating a feeling of luxury in the minds of the customer.
In the last few years, sustainable products have become a priority for consumers and for brands. The staggering growth in consumer awareness about sustainability, and frequent dialogues on social responsibility has pushed brand owners to do away with traditional, non-environmental friendly packaging methods, focusing more on homogeneous (same family of polymers) film structures.
BOPP, CPP and PE come from the same poly-olefin family of polymers which can be used individually or in combination to form mono-material (homogeneous) laminate structures without compromising on the aesthetics and performance of the pack. BOPP and CPP Films also offer benefit of better yield and in turn less consumption of plastics and overall lesser laminate cost.
Consumer expectations are becoming increasingly high, and industries across the spectrum are upgrading their products and systems to become smarter, and provide exceptional customer experience. Intelligent packaging uses its unique features such as sensing, detecting, tracing, and recording and communicating to facilitate extension of shelf life, enhance quality and safety, provide information, and warn about potential problems. The technology of intelligent packaging can be applied to identify counterfeit products, boost consumer engagement with the help of smartphones, and avoid wastage through clear indication of freshness levels or expiry of the product.
Use Of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is gaining a lot of popularity in several areas of food sciences such as food safety, packaging, processing, bioavailability, fortification, encapsulation, and pathogen detection among others. In the food packaging industry, research shows that nanotechnology-based food packaging offers numerous advantages over conventional food packaging materials. The nano materials used in the packaging are “smart materials”; they respond to the external environment, repair themselves or alert the consumers about contaminations.
Apart from the obvious advantage of smart packaging, the application of nanotechnology also comes with other advantages such as improvement in temperature resistance, enhanced durability, flame resistance, barrier, recycling and optical properties.
The article has been Contributed by Pyus Tatiya, Manager—Research and Development, Cosmo Films Ltd.