Foods and beverages stay fresh with the help of protective “active packaging” on the inside of the normal packages. This helps reduce the amount of food that’s thrown away. Scientists at Evonik develop the key raw materials for this “active packaging.”
Foods that look tasty and fresh and are attractively packaged as well—modern supermarkets have a huge amount of products on offer, and this sometimes causes shoppers to buy more than they can consume over a given period. The problem here is that the food products don’t last forever: At some point, sausages will go bad even in the refrigerator, where yoghurt can also turn sour and cheese moldy. A lot of food therefore ends up in the garbage. Germany’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture reports that every German throws away around 82 kilograms of food each year on average, although 64 percent of this amount really doesn’t have to go to waste.
Food products such as meats, sausages, milk and dairy products, and beverages react very sensitively to oxygen, traces of which remain even in shrink-wrapped packages. This oxygen triggers an oxidation process that accelerates the growth of microorganisms that cause fresh foods to start tasting and smelling bad—and also lose their vitamin content. In other words, the food spoils.
Vice President Active Packaging,
Strategy & New Growth Business, Resource Efficiency Segment
A new trend has therefore developed that involves the use of “active packaging” in which a chemical absorber is integrated into the packaging material, where it bonds with the remaining oxygen. Scientists from Evonik develop such additive-based concentrates, which not only absorb oxygen but also ensure that transparent packaging foils remain transparent. This is important, because most oxygen absorbers on the market change their color to an unpleasant-looking yellow as they protect food products.
Many companies in the food and packaging industries have already expressed interest in the newly developed VISPARENT® product, despite the fact that it’s still being examined by the authorities for approval. The market here harbors great potential—for example, demand for such packaging is very high in Europe, the USA, and Japan. Evonik is already working with leading manufacturers on the development of formulations that can offer the right solution for each type of packaging. That’s because regardless of whether it’s transparent foils, plastic containers, or bottle caps—the new oxygen absorber can basically be used with all types of packaging. This will give it a unique standing on the market and very likely ensure that it will make its way into a large number of supermarkets.
Additive concentrates from Evonik keep cheese, meat, and other foods fresh for a longer period of time. Drinks in PET bottles and milk also last longer—and bottle caps with oxygen absorbers on the inside extend the shelf life of beer and other beverages as well.