Future nanopackaging market worth billions, says study

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Packaging, Nanotechnology

As worldwide sales of nanotechnology-related products approached
the $1bn (€739m)mark last year, the food packaging industry could
be worth as much as $30bn (€22bn), according to a new study.

The study provides processors and packagers with an insight into how this new technology is likely to develop in the future. Consultants, Helmut Kaiser estimate that nanotechnology will change 25 per cent of the food packaging market, currently worth $100bn (€74bn), in the decade to follow. The surge in demand is expected to be driven by new applications for the technology. Three years ago less than 40 nanopackaging products were on the market, with over 400 available at present. According to the study, the major market trends include improving packaging to extend shelf life and incorporate antibacterial functions, and making packaging interactive. The new product development has driven sales from $150m (€111m) in 2002, to $860 (€635m)in 2004, with total demand at $980m (€724m) in 2006, according to the study. According to Helmut Kairser, packaging will increasingly become a service trying to meet multiple functions. "Simple traditional "packing" is to be replaced with multi-functional intelligent methods to improve the food quality,"​ the study said. Nanotechnology is a method of controlling matter at near-atomic scales to produce unique or enhanced materials, products and devices. With a different nanostructure, the gas and water vapor permeability of plastics can be engineered to preserve fruit, vegetables, beverages, wine and other food. With the use of nanoparticles, bottles and packaging can be made lighter and stronger, with better thermal performance and less gas absorption. These properties can extend the shelf life of products, as well as lower the transportation costs involved in shipping food. Nanostructured film can be used to prevent the invasion of bacteria and microorganism into packaging to ensure food safety. Embedded nanosensors in packaging will be enable consumers to "read" the food inside. Sensors are being developed that will alert consumers before the food goes rotten, and will provide information on the nutritional status of packaging contents. Nanotechnology has attracted the attention of industry, governments and research institutes. Companies, such as Krafts, Budweiser and Pepsi have research and development projects in operation. However, despite the seemingly unlimited possibilities nanotechnology can provide, public concerns have been raised that such materials could potentially lead to unforeseen health or environmental hazards. The study said that China and Taiwan have already taken a firm foothold in this market and are poised to be challenging competitors in this market.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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