Moving Toward Intelligent Packaging to Support 21st Century Premium Branding of Pulse Value-Added Food as Solution for Sustainable Development and Nutrition
Claire Sand, Gordon Bacon, and Laurette Dubé
Food - based solutions are pressingly needed to improve impact of agriculture investments on economic development and nutrition security in poor and middle income countries, as well as to contain the ever increasing healthcare costs and environmental challenges associated with modern diet and lifestyle around the world.
To accelerate progress, we have proposed convergent innovation to reinvent value addition and premium food brands for the 21st Century, in order to produce, promote and consume “safe, nutrition, sustainable, and enjoyable” food, more so than present status quo, for any product category and at any price point . Pulses, with their well-established benefits for human and environmental health and nutrition, afford rich possibilities in this regard, with early investment made in the global pulse brand for 2016 International Year of Pulses setting foundations.
This article, part of the series produced from the food convergent innovation webinar series, bring to bear the most advanced packaging science and technologies in supporting this movement. Packing interfaces at many levels.
This includes: logistics, diversion and fraud deterrence, food safety, B2B handling, sustainability, marketing, as well as, simplistically, extending the shelf life of pulses. Packaging is integral in achieving the modernization of traditional pulses as well as in enabling value-added pulses. Traditional pulse use as an ingredient can be enhanced with packaging. The CI format and value chain partnerships can be instrumental in integrating more pulse-based ingredients into food formulations.
This influence spans from transport to pulse actual use in food manufacturing. In the transport arena of the value chain, there is an increased need to reduce the economic impact of food fraud. Anticounterfeit packaging assists in reducing diversion and fraudulent products. For example, color coded or patterned pallet shrink wrap and RFID tags assist with load security. Building tactic knowledge in the value chain also allows for a deeper understanding of the demanding production environment so that packaging solutions can be developed.
Manufacturers’ common needs include reducing labor, time, and cost and increased quality. Value can be added to pulse-based ingredients by translating this need into packaging solutions that enable rapid measuring. For example, premeasured amounts of pulse-based ingredients enrobed in degradable/edible packaging would allow the correct amount of ingredient to be added.
This reduces labor, time, and ingredient waste and increases product consistency. Since concerns over the ability of microbes to grow in moistened dry ingredients, sterilization of pulse-based ingredients within an ingredient package will become a critical need. Packaging can add value to traditional pulses used as ingredients in food formulations.
More sustainable packaging aligns with value-added pulses being generally more sustainable than protein alternatives. This links marketing and sustainability as well as the primary function of food packaging - extending shelf life - to form a CI-derived business strategy for value-added pulses. With 30% of food being wasted from farm to fork in urban and developed economies, packaging has a vital role in reducing the waste of value-added pulses and increasing overall sustainability. While more packaging generally reduces food waste by extending product shelf life, consumer perception is that packaging represents more of an environmental impact than food waste.
While this is not true for most food packaging, consumer perception has been difficult to sway. Regardless, by linking sustainable packaging to value-added pulses, the connection of pulses to sustainability becomes firmer. Sustainably packaging value-added pulses means a focus on use of recyclable packaging. Recycling and overall design for recovery allows the energy cost of raw material extraction to be balanced out amount the number of uses the packaging experiences.
Use of recycled aluminum, for example, results in 95% less energy than using nonrecycled aluminum. Within a focus on recyclability, the use of polymers represents a challenge and opportunity. But, recyclable and recycled polymers can be used with valueadded pulses and align with what these consumers expect in a value-added pulse product. Further non-oil-derived and recyclable polymers such as bPET (polyethyleneterephthlate), bPEF (polyethylene furanoate), and bPTF (polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate) can be employed.
Life Cycle Analyses (LCAs) can assist in guiding package decision making. While recycled polymers are not approved for direct contact with “wet” food, such as lentil soup, they are approved for use with “dry” foods such as lentil crackers. Unlike in ingredient packaging, degradable packaging is not compatible with value-added consumer packaging. This is because most value-added pulse products require oxygen and water vapor barriers and more sufficient mechanical strength than possible with truly degradable or compostable polymers.
To sustainably packaging value-added pulses and in alignment with CI, providing product protection and marketing to result in a controllable shelf life is essential. Packaging technologies that extend shelf life by reducing protein loss include active and barrier packaging. Intelligent packaging can also be connected with marketing strategies to provide consumer, retailers, logistical information as well as marketing information to communicate the value-added pulse message. This entails authentically and transparently evidencing the care taken along the supply networks for nutritional quality, environmental and natural capital sustainability, and the safety of each food.
It is now within reach through the revolution of Internet-of-Things (IoT) that is reshaping modern food supply chains and its consumer and market interfaces through the most advanced intelligent packaging. The powerful digital capabilities can be brought into the food innovation ecosystem to link branding upstream into everyday consumer habits and behaviors, and downstream to of all actors along supply chain and markets.
This will accelerate the ability of farm and food businesses to invent 21st century premium food brands that are superior to competition in terms of safe, nutritious, sustainable and enjoyable quality at any price point. Spanning the full ecosystem, intelligent packaging can link consumer-facing quality signal systems with a pipeline of evidence based parameters for safe, nutritional, sustainable, and enjoyable food. This presents high potential for improving commercial and social impact of pulses value-added foods around the world.
Based outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dr. Claire Sand runs Packaging Technology and Research, where she provides project based strategy, technology, consulting and coaching services to food and packaging companies. Since 2007, Dr. Sand has been an adjunct professor at Michigan State University and in 2015 assumed the role of contributing editor and packaging columnist for IFT’s Food Technology magazine. In her 30 plus year career, Dr. Sand has held a variety of roles across the food science and packaging spectrum. Her mission is to fundamentally change the world with packaging science that increases shelf life and reduces food waste. Prior to leading her own company, Sand’s experience ranged from basic research and development, academia, to strategic value chain analysis market research and marketing. Her portfolio includes working with Gerber - Nestle, Pillsbury- General Mills, Kraft Foods -Kraft Heinz, Dominick’s -Safeway, and research institutes in Germany, Colombia, and Thailand. Dr. Sand holds a doctorate degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota and received both her master’s degree and bachelor’s degrees in Packaging from Michigan State University.
Gordon Bacon is CEO for Pulse Canada and is also CEO of the Canadian Special Crops Association, an organization that represents processors, exporters and brokers of all pulses and special crops. Pulse Canada is the national industry association that represents growers, processors and exporters of Canadian pulses. The association’s mandate is to contribute to the profitability of the Canadian pulse industry by delivering innovative solutions that improve efficiencies and increase the value of pulse production, processing and marketing. When successful, Pulse Canada’s efforts will ensure that different market segments recognize pulses as healthy, sustainable and functional food products, leading to increased worldwide demand for Canadian pulses. Direction and funding for Pulse Canada is provided by Alberta Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan pulse Growers, the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association, Ontario Bean Growers, and the Canadian Special Crops Association. Before joining Pulse Canada 19 years ago, Gordon was Director of Market Development at the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). He has also served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of State, Grains and Oilseeds in Ottawa; and in various roles with federal and provincial departments of agriculture.
Dr. Dubé is a Full Professor and holds the James McGill Chair of consumer and lifestyle psychology and marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University, Canada. Her research interest bears on the study of affects and behavioural economic processes underlying consumption and lifestyle behaviour and how such knowledge can inspire more effective health and marketing communications in both real-life and technology-supported media. She is the Founding Chair and Scientific Director of the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics. The MCCHE was created to foster partnerships among scientists and decision-makers from all sectors of society to encourage a more ambitious notion of what can be done for more effective health management and novel pathways for social and business innovation.