Indeed, consumers want to know what they are getting. They want their products to be traceable right through the supply chain, from where the raw materials come from to when the product was shipped, and these concerns will be embodied in a new EU law that comes into force next year.
The new EU-wide regulation will make it compulsory for food manufacturers to keep detailed records of everything that goes on within the supply chain. As a result, IT software within the supply chain is becoming commonplace as food manufacturers race to comply with the law.
Another driving force behind the growth of IT within food production has been supermarkets on both sides of the Atlantic. Wal-Mart, for example, is introducing RFID technology for many of its products, and those in the food production industry are beginning to be aware that they have little option but to move with the changes.
This is the purpose of the RFID pavilion at this year's Pack Expo. It will highlight solutions that meet the requirements of the entire supply chain and feature technologies to upgrade conventional lines into RFID-enabled packaging lines capable of applying multi-pack, case and pallet tags online.
RFID and Electronic Product Code (EPC) presentations will also be a part of the Conference at Pack Expo. These will form a series of informational and educational programmes designed to complement technologies seen on the show floor.
"We're very pleased to present Pack Expo International attendees with an opportunity to examine RFID technologies first-hand," said Charles Yuska, president of PMMI.
"PMMI is committed to adding value to its events by focusing on technologies and issues that are at the forefront of our industry. With RFID impacting such a broad array of market segments - from food and beverage to personal care and household products - we felt it was essential to make the technology an integral part of Pack Expo International 2004."
In total, Pack Expo International 2004 will feature more than 1,600 exhibitors and take up more than 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space. Over 47,000 are expected to attend, including 6,000 international visitors from more than 70 countries.
Unsurprisingly, the event bills itself as one of the world's largest showcases of packaging equipment, materials and containers. Over 90 per cent of available exhibit space has already been sold.
Sponsored and produced by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), the event will highlight the latest advancements from across the packaging industry, including labelling and coding technologies, brand-building materials, robotics and active and protective packaging solutions.