Smart packaging that even talks, extending product life

The show floor at IPACK-IMA 2015
The show floor at IPACK-IMA 2015

At the IPACK-IMA exhibition in Milan last week, a new smart packaging product was introduced – it helps to save time and money, extend the life of food, and avoid small accidents in the home.

To avoid tricky packet openings, there is now a simple but effective solution: a packet with a small slit down the middle that can be opened simply by pressing two fingers. IPACK-IMA also unveiled a new type of food covering that fits like a second skin over, for example, a chicken. The covering film acts as a barrier to liquids, keeps in all odours, and yet, thanks to the strategic placement of two indentations, can be easily opened by your finger and thumb.

Some inventors have even come up with a clean way of letting you dole out the right amount of a product using, for example, a practical container that comes complete with a hollow-handled teaspoon. Just insert the spoon into the neck of the container, press, and the coffee creamer, fruit mousse or vegetable smoothie for the baby will be squeezed onto the spoon. Older children who drink fruit juice, chocolate milk or whatever from the carton can dispense with the spoon, but may enjoy the cap, a collectible item that transforms itself into a game. Its specially shaped edges click together with other caps, and can be used to build up construction stacks.

Also unveiled at the fair was what promises to be an extremely useful invention for the visually impaired: a can equipped with a microchip and mini-speaker inserted into the label that “speaks”. Just touch the label, and the recording, which can be up to four minutes long, will describe the origin, type of product, its characteristics, expiration date and so on.

To keep up with our new pace of life, an alternative has been invented to the traditional plastic trays for the storage of cold cuts, which once opened cannot be reclosed to keep the product fresh. The answer to this is a new type of container in the form of a CD sleeve, in which the slices are stacked one on top of the other, but can easily be peeled off when they are ready to use. What are the benefits? The sleeve perfectly fits around the content and thus improves its preservation, because the amount of empty inside space, and therefore air, is reduced, and, most importantly, the packaging is perfectly re-sealable.

Long-life conservation is increasingly important for fresh food and keeping costs down. Here are two other ideas: add antimicrobial agents to strawberry punnets or additives that kill bacteria to the cardboard boxes used for apples and pears. Their use slows down the ripening, prevents the formation of mould, maintains the colour, aroma, texture and flavour of the fruit, and thus doubles its life on the supermarket shelf.