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Active and intelligent packaging may be poised for a surge

Research finds that the focus is shifting from retailer and manufacturer concerns to consumer needs, such as product freshness and quality.

So-called “smart” packaging for years focused on retailer and consumer packaged goods company concerns, from track and trace to shelf life to product spoilage. But according to new research, the focus is shifting toward what matters most to consumers—product freshness, quality, and information.

A new report, “The Future of Active and Intelligent Packaging in Food and Drinks,” says freshness indicators will be the most important innovations in smart packaging over the next five years. The report, from Business Insight Reports, cites Coca-Cola and Unilever as two consumer product companies that are pushing innovation through active and intelligent packaging, according to

Active and intelligent packaging technology, from a consumer perspective, could include time and temperature indicators and other advancements that improve convenience and safety and also enhance product attributes. Executed well, active and smart packaging could improve consumers’ willingness to pay more for packaged products, the report says.

The report forecasts that the global active and intelligent packaging market for food and beverages will be $6.6 billion by 2015, with $5.3 billion going to active packaging and $1.3 billion to intelligent packaging. Annual growth, the report adds, will be 5.3% for active packaging and 3.7% for intelligent packaging.

Using food as an example, active packaging changes the condition of the packaged good to extend shelf life or improve safety or sensory properties, while also maintaining product quality. Intelligent packaging detects product freshness.

Active and intelligent packaging today is rooted in luxury products, but the research indicates it will migrate into mainstream goods as technologies become more widely available and more affordable.

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