With the increasing global customer base, food retailing is transforming. However, with the move toward globalization, food packaging requires longer shelf life, along with monitoring food safety and quality based upon international standards. To address these needs, nanotechnology is enabling new food and beverage packaging technologies. Applications in nano-enabled packaging span development of improved tastes, color, flavor, texture and consistency of foodstuffs, increased absorption and bio-availability of nutrients and health supplements, new food packaging materials with improved mechanical, barrier and antimicrobial properties, and nano-sensors for traceability and monitoring the condition of food during transport and storage.
According to a study by iRAP, Inc., the total nano-enabled food and beverage packaging market in the year 2008 was US$4.13 bln, which is expected to grow in 2009 to US$4.21 bln and forecasted to grow to US$7.30 bln by 2014, at a CAGR of 11.65%. Active technology represents the largest share of the market, and will continue to do so in 2014, with US$4.35 bln in sales, and the intelligent segment will grow to US$2.47 bln sales. Active technology is set to grab the largest share with a market value of US$4.35 bln by the end of the review period – an increase of almost 10% pa. However, its overall market share is set to decrease from 66% to 59% within 5 years. Greatest growth in the sector will be seen in the intelligent packing segment, where compound annual growth will hit almost 19% to reach US$2.47 bln by 2014. This growth will be instrumental in its market share rising from its current 25% to 34%. The controlled sector will be squeezed, said the report, with its share of the market dropping from 9-7% over the period. This is because it will expand less quickly than the other segments as its value is projected to climb from US$360 mln to US$480 mln.
Among active technologies, oxygen scavenger, moisture absorbers and barrier packaging represent more than 80% of the current market.
• Time/temperature indicators are a major share of intelligent packaging, with radio frequency identification data tags (RFIDs) forecasted to show the strongest growth in this category in the future.
• In food products, the bakery and meat products categories have attracted the most nano-packaging applications, and in beverages, carbonated drinks and bottled water dominate.
• Among the regions, Asia/Pacific, in particular Japan, is the market leader in active nano-enabled packaging, with 45% of the current market, valued at $1.86 billion in 2008 and projected to grow to US$3.43 bln by 2014, at a CAGR of 12.63%. By contrast, the European market for nanotechnology in food and beverage packing is presently estimated to be worth US$830 mln with the study forecasting it to rise to US$1.31 bln by 2014. The US market, currently valued at US$1.44 bln, is predicted to increase to US$2.56 bln.
• In the United States, Japan, and Australia, active packaging are already being successfully applied to extend shelf-life while maintaining nutritional quality and ensuring microbiological safety. Examples of commercial applications include the use of oxygen scavengers for sliced processed meat, ready-to-eat meals and beer, the use of moisture absorbers for fresh meat, poultry, and fresh fish, and ethylene-scavenging bags for packaging of fruit and vegetables. In Europe, however, only a few of these systems have been developed and are being applied now. The main reasons for this are legislative restrictions and a lack of knowledge about acceptability to European consumers, as well as the efficacy of such systems and the economic and environmental impact such systems may have. The European "Actipak" project will address these issues in the near future.
• Nanoclays have shown the broadest commercial viability due to their lower cost and their utility in common thermoplastics like polypropylene (PP), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), PET, polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), and nylon.
As per a report by BCC Research, The global market for active, controlled and intelligent packaging for food and beverages will increase from US$15.5 bln in 2005 to US$16.9 bln by the end of 2008. It should reach US$23.6 bln by 2013, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9%. Controlled packaging has the largest share of the market; estimated to comprise 45.4% in 2008, it will decrease slightly to approximately 40.5% in 2013. Active packaging will comprise approximately 27% of the market in 2008 but will decrease slightly to 26.9% by 2013.