Highlights of the 18th IAPRI World Packaging Conference

A record 24 countries were represented at the recently completed IAPRI World Packaging Conference as this year’s host, the Packaging Program at Cal Poly, celebrated its 
25 anniversary.

Dr. Jay Singh, professor and packaging program director at Cal Poly.
Dr. Jay Singh, professor and packaging program director at Cal Poly.

The 18th IAPRI World Packaging Conference, a collaboration between the International Association of Packaging Research Institutes (IAPRI) and the Packaging Program at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, was held June 17-21. It was attended by 170 delegates from a record 24 countries. As the host, the Packaging Program at Cal Poly commemorated its 25th anniversary with the global participants at the four-day conference.

There were 93 presentations for the oral and poster categories, and they were produced by some of the leading national and international packaging researchers from industry and academia on 11 topic areas. These ranged from packaging for food & agricultural products to packaging for hazardous and dangerous goods.

Four leading experts from academia, industry, and the US government provided keynote presentations on plastics and sustainability: The Future of Bioplastics and Biomaterials in the New Green Economy; Global Packaging Trends in the Food and Beverage Industries; Packaging and Logistics to Support the War Fighter; and North American Containerboard Supply to Global Markets and the Important Role for Innovation in Corrugated Packaging Today.

This conference was also generously sponsored by several of the leading trade associations, brand owners, consulting firms, research equipment manufacturers, and material and packaging manufacturers from the packaging field. A record 23 sponsors—Packaging World was among them—made this event highly educational, exciting, and memorable for all.

At most academic conferences the topics are presented from a deeply scientific perspective, and as such are generally considered too technical to be of immediate practical use to everyday packaging professionals. Though the conference at Cal Poly was held primarily for the scientific community, there were numerous lessons for today’s practitioners. This article reports on several innovative presentations made in the focus area of Packaging for Food & Agriculture .

In the topic area of Active and Intelligent Packaging, as related to food packaging, several examples related to innovative concepts were presented. The use of silver ions as an antimicrobial agent in food applications was discussed by a group from the Novel Materials & Nanotechnology Group at Spain’s University of Valencia. The group reported the results of successful incorporation of silver ions from a salt compound of silver into polylactide acid (PLA) matrices by a solvent casting technique. The ions were reported to not affect crystallinity, water permeability, or water-induced plasticization of the materials, and they were homogenously distributed along the surface and thickness of the films. Antimicrobial assays according to the broth dilution method in M9 medium reported a bactericidal effect of the films after daily washings during the 6, 30 and 60 days of experimentation of the films with 0.01%, 0.1% and 1% silver, respectively. These results represent a step forward in the understanding of silver antimicrobial efficacy and its possible application in the food packaging industry.

More Antimicrobials

A presentation representing numerous collaborating companies was made by the Institute of Molecular Chemistry from the University of Burgundy in France. This presentation covered antimicrobial performances of some natural extracts in packaging. This work is being done with active films, and the presentation reported the results of experimentation involving the incorporation of thymol and carvacrol at 1 wt% in PP and filled PP. The results reported, in all cases, that residual concentration of the active compounds was sufficient to inhibit microorganisms and an overall migration of below the established limit (10 mg/dm2) except for the case of filled PP.

A presentation from a group representing both Amcor Flexibles and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences discussed the development of palladium-based oxygen scavenging film for food packaging. Using magnetron sputtering technology, the group coated palladium on the packaging films (PET and PET/SiOx) with the goal of removing residual oxygen in packages that remains after modified atmosphere packaging. It was reported that palladium-coated PET/SiOx films inhibited the vitamin C degradation in orange juice and orange segments significantly and preserved the color of ham.

An engaging presentation made by Multisorb Technologies provided a great overview of sustainable packaging through active controls and materials selection. The noted benefits of active packaging mentioned were product quality retention, shelf life extension, and the reduction/elimination of preservatives, artificial colorants, sequestering agents, stabilizers, etc. in food formulations. Clean Label Initiative was presented as one the most beneficial results of using active packaging techniques. Multisorb described several product lines aimed at replacing most functions of artificial food additives with active packaging controls in a suitable format such as chelating agents used to sequester trace minerals in foods and prevent them from catalyzing the oxidation of flavors, oils, etc. Examples presented included FreshCard™ (rapidly removes oxygen from package headspace and oxygen dissolved in a food product so that oxidation is eliminated), FreshPax® (removes oxygen from package headspace so that oxidation of vitamins is eliminated), and FreshMax® label (rapidly removes oxygen from package headspace so that lipid oxidation is eliminated).

Numerous other presentations dealt with other food packaging related topics. A presentation by the Danish Technological Institute reported on the optimization of frozen fish packaging for microwave steaming. The investigation pointed out that there are serious problems with both cooking instructions and packaging of such products. Optimal reheating times are not being clearly stated, so that overheating is too commonly the outcome. The effectiveness of the solutions proposed by the team was confirmed by results of post-microwaving temperature mapping that indicated homogenous heating.

A presentation made by the Institute of Food Technology under the Ministry of Agriculture and Supply, government of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, reported on the competitiveness of the Brazilian food system and the need for a strategic plan for food and packaging. Part of the purpose of this undertaking was to comparatively analyze industrial policies implemented in the world regarding the differences and similarities between two groups: emerging and developed countries. The preliminary results presented showed that Canada, Australia, EU countries, India, and Chile had prepared strategic plans in order to face the competitiveness in the future (2020-2050). Brazil, one of the biggest food suppliers in the world, doesn’t seem to have a strategic plan or sufficient focus on promoting technological innovation promotion to compete strategically in this complex scenario.

The proceedings of the conference are available at www.destech

Dr. Jay Singh (jasingh@calpoly.edu) is professor and packaging program director at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.