Insights by AUSPACK

Andrew Manly, AIPIA, communications director discussing the value and active and intelligent packaging and how companies capitalising on trends, on day one of the AUSPACK 2019 Business and Industry Conference.

Think about what A&IP can do for you now, says AIPIA director

Posted on July 23rd, 2019 in Insights by AUSPACK

The focus of active and intelligent packaging has shifted. No longer should we be trying to convince brands that there’s something worthwhile in the technology, it’s time to explain how it adds value to them specifically.

That’s the message from Andrew Manly, communications director at the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association, as he spoke at the 2019 AUSPACK Business and Industry conference. He backed this up with several examples of the way companies are using this technology in today’s market.

Who are likely to be the main beneficiaries?

Although there will be outliers who benefit greatly from active and intelligent packaging, Andrew highlighted four key industries where he expects huge uptake:

  • food
  • beverage
  • pharmaceuticals
  • personal care/cosmetics

He also mentioned that the apparel industry would be likely to take it up, but in a different way.

What are the basic benefits of A&IP?

There are many ways active and intelligent packaging can benefits companies and consumers. Some of the most important ones that he touched on included:

  • food safety
  • anti-counterfeiting
  • consumer engagement

There are other benefits too, such as condition monitoring, new legislation, compliance and making use of the high uptake of smartphones.

Food safety

As a consumer, when you buy food from the supermarket you want to know that it’s fresh and it’s safe to eat.  By making this clearer, we can give consumers better peace of mind while also helping supermarkets to reduce waste.

Andrew said, “It’s not all rocket science. It’s a coating or it’s some additive that makes it antimicrobial or growth inhibiting for bacteria. A Spanish maker of soups greatly increased the oxygen barrier. Their product had a one-year shelf life without refrigeration and the oxygen permeability was increased by 100-fold.”

New packaging allows food to stay good longer and it lets shoppers see just what state their produce is in before taking it home. He said, “An old idea on condition monitoring. A gelatine layer over a plastic bump – as the gelatine degrades as the same rate as the protein inside the pack, if you can feel the bump then you’ll know that the product is near its usable date.”

“Certainly in European supermarkets, discounting is seen as a normal process. If you reduce your waste from 2% to 1.5% on your food items in a major store you can increase your bottom line by double digits. Discounting, while it’s easy, is costly.”

There are other ways of highlighting food expiration too and some brands are experimenting with labels and stickers that change colour at the same rate as the food they’re on to give an accurate depiction of what’s happening.

Anti-counterfeiting

If you make a high-end product, there’s a good chance that someone somewhere wants to try to fake it to get a slice of your profits. For Australian business, this is a particular threat to the wine industry.

There are a few main approaches to tackling this: using blockchain, by adding scannable data to labels or using tamperproof additions to a bottle.

One technology that Andrew highlighted that is currently in development is the idea of unique QR codes on packaging. He said, “Laser printed QR codes that are physically sprayed and each one has a unique pattern which is photographed and identified before it’s put onto the pack. It’s a one-off — every single one is unique because it has a different pattern. They’re doing tests, they did 10,000 tags and 96% were recognised by system and the ones that were counterfeit were 93% recognised.”

Consumer engagement

And one other key area of consideration is consumer engagement. If you can turn your packaging into something of greater value or something that entertains your customer, beyond what’s inside the package, you can give your customers a better experience.

Andrew ran through a few ways that companies are — and can — use augmented reality to improve consumer engagement. Augmented reality uses a device (such as a smartphone) to overlay something on top of a product.

This can be something useful or something beautiful. Useful examples include when Heinz used augmented reality to add recipes to a product, or it could be an easy way to add instructions to packaging while reducing paper waste.

Labels can also be a thing of beauty, where it’s a Heineken-owned spirit brand turning a label into some psychedelic or it’s Coca-Cola using light-emitting diodes on their labels so that when their logo is touched, it lights up.

While these developments may not be seen as important for the products themselves, they do open up A&IP to more brands. With increased consumer engagement, you’re likely to see an increase in brand loyalty and social media sharing.

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