German consumers are getting older; eating more flexibly outside the home; eating ideologically or in line with religious beliefs, and have diets that reflect individual values as they attempt to optimise their physical and mental performance.
Carola K. Herbst from the DLG’s (German Agricultural Society) Food Competence Center recently told those visiting Anuga FoodTec 2018 in Cologne, Germany, that packaging has to address all these factors and is a direct interface with the consumer so needs to reach the consumer on an emotional level, at the same time as meeting the growing desire for natural packaging materials and conveying other ideals such as beauty, well-being, health and fitness.
“Smart packaging offers an additional function with integrated technologies,” said Carola. “These are chemically or electronically based and are used in a market-driven or consumer-oriented manner. Data carriers can inform consumers about the origin or ingredients of a product, while special indicator substances can indicate the degree of freshness or the temperature of the product.”
To meet consumers’ desires, investment in new technologies and processes would be required, but product quality and manufacturing costs also had to be optimised. In addition, the food sector had to address concerns about sustainability and resource efficiency.
“With the world’s population rising dramatically, increasing demand for processed food, especially in emerging economies, bottlenecks in water and energy supply, and the incalculable consequences of global climate change, resource efficiency is increasingly becoming the focus of attention,” said Carola. “The DLG’s ‘Trend Monitor 2018 – Investments and Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry’ report says investments in new technologies for the reduction of water, cold, heat and electricity loads and in energy management are particularly in demand in the next three years.”
Carola also highlighted the European Commission focus on the issue of waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET) because of China’s import ban on plastic waste put into force earlier this year.
“The trend towards recycling PET has already reached a high level in Germany,” said Herbst. “More than 97% of bottle PET was already recycled in 2015 thanks to a deposit scheme. Both recycling and upcycling lead to a reuse of the PET, with the difference being that upcycling produces a higher-quality secondary product. Newly developed processes enable the high-quality recirculation of PET, thus reducing the consumption of new plastics.”