Where next for edible packaging? From dissolvable pre-workout protein packs to instant oatmeal

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Where next for edible packaging? From dissolvable pre-workout protein packs to instant oatmeal

Related tags: edible packaging

Tide Pods remain firmly off the menu, but individually portioned instant coffee, pasta, oatmeal and servings of protein powder encased in edible packaging that dissolves as soon as it hits water could become a staple in US households as firms seek to reduce packaging waste, boost convenience, and help consumers engage in portion control, says Monosol.

Monosol​, which makes patented food grade water soluble edible film from polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH)​ ​– a generally recognized as safe colorless, odorless and tasteless substance that dissolves in water in seconds - is seeing growing interest in three areas:

  • Consumer packaged goods​: Individually portioned pasta, rice, instant coffee, oatmeal and protein shakes and drinks mixes portioned into packets that dissolve during preparation.
  • In industrial scale food production​: To enable the delivery of precise quantities of ingredients such as coloring, spices, and oil, into large batches of products.
  • Foodservice/restaurants​: Anywhere with low skilled staff or time-pressed staff looking for a hassle free means of delivering precise quantities of minor ingredients into recipes quickly and accurately.          

While weight for weight it’s more expensive to buy pre-packed ingredients, industrial customers are saving money through increased accuracy and speed, less cleaning/mess/dust, reduced wastage, and lower labor costs, Dorota Bartosik, senior manager, new ventures marketing, told FoodNavigator-USA.

"In some cases the benefits are for exployees, who maybe don't have to wear protective gear​ [in environments where dust from certain ingredients is floating around]; we're helping create a better working environment." 

Mess-free protein powder (no tubs, no scoops)

PODZ_choc

In consumer products, early adopters such as VADE Nutrition​, Podz Nutrition​ and SERV Nutrition​ (Prodrop) have introduced dissolvable protein pre-workout packs or protein drops which are convenient, pre-portioned and mess-free (no more scoops and tubs), said Bartosik.

"Nature's Bounty has also introduced dissolvable protein packs under the Body Fortress​ and Pure Protein​ brands."

For a product such as instant oatmeal, which often comes in pre-portioned paper sachets, these could be ditched and replaced with PVOH, creating no waste, she said.

"We're just scratching the surface when it comes to potential food applications. It's not just about sustainability, but also about convenience, portability and innovation: brand reinvention through new form factors.

"For something like pasta, the portion control aspect might be more appealing."

You can stretch it quite a bit

"What's appealing about PVOH​ [vs some other edible packaging materials] is that it's really strong and robust," ​added Jon Knight, manager, new ventures technology.

"You can stretch it quite a bit, and it dissolves quickly and completely, whereas some other materials kind of disperse rather than completely dissolve,"​ said Knight, who said PVOH is not metabolized by the body and passes straight through the digestive tract.

MonoSol

According to its GRAS determination,​ Monosol produces food grade PVOH by polymerization of vinyl acetate monomer through controlled hydrolysis of the resulting polyvinyl acetate.  The FDA issued a no questions/objections letter​ in September 2019. 

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