Intelligent Packaging: Quality Checking at Its Best
Intelligent packaging is referred to as a packaging system that is capable of carrying out smart functions such as detection, sensing, recording, tracing, communication, in addition to the application of scientific logic. This further helps in the facilitation of decision making, an extension of the shelf life of the product, safety enhancement, improving the quality of the product, providing relevant information regarding the product status, and warning about possible problems. The technology consists of temperature and freshness indicators, RFID tags, and sensors.
Intelligent Packaging for Food
The market is projected to grow at a significant pace with the rising trend towards the achievement of product safety, high-quality, and sustainability. With the increasing demand for food in order to satiate the rising global population, there is a need for sophisticated technologies that help in providing information regarding the quality status, thus preventing food wastage and spoilage. Hence, the adoption of intelligent packaging will help in the form of a quality indicator for the purchased food product. This will keep the consumer well-informed about the food quality and thus will curb food wastage to a greater extent. The growing demand for livestock products like meat, milk, and eggs will fuel the intelligent packaging market demand along with the growing demand for animal protein. As per the WHO information, there has been a surging pressure on the livestock industry for the production of high-value animal protein. Hence, the livestock sector is continuing to grow at a rapid pace and the major driving factors behind this growth are attributed to the rapidly growing population, increasing income, and rapid urbanization. The meat production on an annual basis is predicted to surge from 218 million tonnes during 1997-1999 to attain a production size of 376 million tonnes by the end of 2030.
Source: WHO, Annual Meat Production, 1997/99 to 2030, in Million Tonnes
A strong relationship between the rising income levels and animal protein consumption is depicted with the consumption of animal products like meat, milk, and eggs growing at the cost of commonly consumed staple foods. Additionally, with a sharp decline in prices, it has been noticed that the developing or the emerging economies of the world have commenced on higher meat consumption levels in comparison to the developed economies. According to the FAO predictions, the annual meat consumption in the emerging economies is projected to soar from 25.5 kg per person in 1997/99 to 37 kg per person by the end of 2030. In the industrialized nations, it is predicted to surge from 88 kg per person to 100 kg per person during the same time period. For milk and dairy products, the consumption is projected to grow from 45 kg per person per annum to 66 kg per person in the emerging economies, for the developed economies, it is predicted to surge from 212 kg per person to 221 kg per person. On the other hand, egg consumption is projected to rise from 6.5 kg per person to 8.9 per person; and from 13.5 per person to 13.8 per person in the developing and developed economies respectively.
The use of intelligent packaging for such perishable food items will definitely be of immense help in providing accurate information regarding the freshness level of the animal-derived food products.
Intelligent Packaging for Pharma Sector
The introduction of smart packaging in medicines is further providing an impetus in boosting the intelligent packaging market growth. The need for intelligent packaging is continuing to grow at a significant pace owing to the increasing prevalence of drugs that are sensitive to certain parameters such as moisture, increasing patient population that requires constant reminders for drug intake on a regular basis, and concerns regarding the sale of counterfeit drugs. It has been noticed that the use of Near Field Communication, NFC, can be highly effective in stopping the sale of counterfeit drugs. The technology involves a unique secure code that is invisible to the human eyes. The secure code is embedded inside the packaging of the pharma product. An authentication server stores the database of the pharmaceutical product, in addition, the server also stores the unique secure code related to the product. Then a mobile device is connected to the server and is configured to read the code that was inserted inside the product packaging. By bringing the mobile device close to the pharmaceutical packaging, the mobile is capable of identifying the genuine pharmaceutical product through communication with the authentic server, and, this, in turn, compares the unique secure code saved in the database.
Previous studies state that even high-income countries with strong regulatory systems that are capable of excluding false drug products also faced issues regarding the sales of counterfeit drugs in their markets. Also, as per OECD information, the incidence of adverse health consequences was noticed due to the use of fake medicines. It was estimated that around 72,000 to 1,69,000 children were expected to die from pneumonia every year after the consumption of fake drugs. Also, it was further assessed that false anti-malarial drugs are predicted to be responsible for additional 1,16,000 deaths (source: WHO, 2017).
Furthermore, significant product launches of smart packaging for drugs is contributing to burgeoning the market growth. In 2019, Log Pharma announced the release of its ActiveGuard Connect smart packaging solutions. The package designing is done for addressing the needs of patient adherence to a prescription drug or nutraceutical supplementation. The technology consists of an incorporated desiccant chamber that is designed to be attached and synchronized with a consumer’s smartphone.
Intelligent Packaging for Cosmetics
Beauty brands are also leveraging intelligent packaging technology that will not only allow the tracking of their cosmetic and personal care products but will also help in interacting with the user, in addition to offering an advanced product. Significant partnerships among organizations in the field of smart packaging for cosmetic and personal care commodities are further providing an opportunity for the market to thrive. In 2018, Cambridge Design Partnership teamed up with the international beauty brand, Avon, for utilizing smart packaging to support customer trials for a novel anti-ageing product.
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