Partners within the European research project PicknPack have unveiled a new food packaging system that they claim will revolutionise the way food products are assessed and deliver to retail channels.
The system – which allows the processing of different food products on the same production line – has been designed to assess individual food products, pack them into trays and provide quality information to consumers, retailers and producers.
As part of the process, a top foil is printed along the production line, with the foil containing quality information and a QR code, which directs the customer to a website where all product informtion can be found.
The print on the top foil is adapted to the retail chain where the packaged product will be sold, which can be different for each individual package. As a result, producers and packers do not need to stock different packaging materials for different retail chains, they can flexibly print them on the go with the actual information about the product inside.
“The system ensures that consumers get the desired product quality and also provides invaluable information for the retail sector which can link quality information to sales figures and optimise their future offerings,” according to a press release from PicknPack. “Also producers can use the information as feedback for management and production decisions and optimise their operation.”
The research project involved 14 partners under the coordination of Wageningen University & Research, with the results presented and demonstrated in Holbeach, UK, earlier this month.
The project focussed on packing vine tomatoes, grapes and ready meals, which were selected as they are deemed to be difficult to handle and assess. PicknPack claimed that if these products can be accurately handled then the movement of other fresh and processed food products could also be automated.