NEWS: Food package's life cycle research

23-02-2017

Consumers, food producers and retailers continuously search for new ways to offer and receive more information, transparency and guarantees about for example the quality, safety, origin, authenticity, or transport and storage conditions of (packaged) food products. The most obvious way to realize this is through the food package itself, but the underlying design, development and production processes and methods gradually fail to rapidly and efficiently respond to constantly changing demands, stricter regulations, new food products and emerging technologies.

Within the food packaging industry, there is a need for new, specific computer systems that allow

  • faster design, development and production of new, improved and more sustainable food packages, with less material and less energy
  • the further optimization of transport and storage of food packages
  • information exchange between different actors in the food supply chain, for example consumer and retailer

Wireless sensor networks and intelligent food packages will play a crucial role in the development of such systems because they allow the monitoring of a wide range of processes and the measurement of different phenomena in- and outside a food package. In time, these cyber-physical computer systems will offer the perspective to

  • realize a more holistic approach of food packaging and, related, a more detailed life cycle assessment
  • reduce food losses that occur due to inefficient logistics processes and inadequate food packages
  • better inform consumers in terms of food quality, safety, origin and authenticity
  • better inform food producers and retailers in terms of shortcomings, needs and demands related to food packages and supply chain processes

The above is discussed  by dr. ir. Mike Vanderroost and his colleagues at Ghent University in an extensive two-part review paper about the digitization of a food package's life cycle, on which they amplify from design software to recycling systems. The researchers focus on the current shortcomings and deficiency of the existing systems, with special attention for the importance of the collection and exchange of data, information and knowledge. Both papers were recently published in Elsevier's journal Computers in Industry and can be found via the following links:

Article I

Article II