“Let's say that you have struggled for years, you have invested large sums of money and made a product very popular and highly consumed in the market. Your products appear in all shelves. Then a consumer buys your product from the store by controlling the expiration date as always. The next day headlines in the newspapers: “The woman eating the product of so-and-so brand got poisoned.” All those years, efforts, brand values earned by scraping your fingernails go down the drain.”
APACK Ambalaj Makine Sanayi ve Tic.Ltd.Sti.
In the past, companies were ending their relationship with their products at the gate of the factory. Big brands were connected with their products up to the shelf at the most. Nowadays, the safety of food products, from the very beginning, by the seeds of the product became a process that has been closely monitored. Food crisis affecting the developed countries in the last 25 years (Salmonella epidemic, bird flu, mad cow disease in the United Kingdom etc.) has led food safety protocols to be criticized by the public. Public pressure triggered the change of food security policies. Thus, manufacturers and suppliers had to share responsibility in the process of food’s reaching our table in a healthy way. The White Paper published in 2000 and legal criteria relating to food safety literally brought the obligations of monitoring the chain from production to consumption.
Urbanization emerging with increase of the population, rise of people's living standards, especially women’s leaving the profession of housewife and participating in the working class, changing consumption habits of younger generations, malls which are located in almost every neighborhood, consumption frenzy brought a rapid growth and the volume increase to the food sector.
Recently, we also had to modify many traditional marketing methods in food market in adapt to EU standards. Mobile sales decreased, products sold in deficit went into shops. The stable development in Europe's packaged products affected us too. Paper bags, bags, cardboard boxes, and tins vanish. Even fruits and vegetables brought to the market are delivered with very different carrier boxes from wholesalers. In fact, some products are sold in prepackaged ½ or 1 pound small containers. This process, which increases costs, has led to rapid development of food production / processing / packaging / transport / storage technologies.
Regarding food safety, our area covers packaging process of food. We have accumulated knowledge and experience enough to compete with many countries in the world in this issue. As well as packaging, however, issues such as handling of the product in the right way and conditions, stocking / stacking correctly in the grocery stores, presenting to the customer's taste correctly in the departments, moving to the consumption area in a right and healthy way, preserving until the consumption in household refrigerators and consuming by preparing to raise the brand value should be kept under control. Part of this process are of requirements (cold chain, undamaged package, stacking load etc.); some are marketing techniques (package format, shelf placement, promotion etc.); and some are consumption advices (cooking methods, service proposals, preparation of recipes, etc.).
Smart/conscious consumers of our time demand the offered products and services whenever they wish, with cheapest / most affordable prices, in highest quality and fastest way. This is literally possible with a correct functioning of all the elements in "Manufacturing and Supply Chain" and each unit’s doing their tasks properly. Otherwise, consumers can easily shift to the other product in the market having a wide range of products. The final presentation of the products on the shelves are displayed in the packaging now. As well as being healthy, the shape and the concept of packaging are among the main factors influencing the amount of consumption.
According to the data of Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade and ITC, the world's annual consumption of packaging is approximately 4.5 million tons. It also reveals a market volume of 450 billion dollars. Looking at the internal structure of packaging consumption, we see that one-third of that is plastic; one-third of it consists of paper packaging. 70% of the global packaging production industry is used in the food and beverage industry. This can be evaluated as an indicator that how much packaging is involved in our lives.
We are not behind of Europe in food packaging. Both the machine park and closing technologies are used in our country as in developed countries. However, packaged food material consumption habit in our country is still very new; this culture has not been developed yet. The consumers’ habit of “touching the food” to understand the freshness of the food still continues. Our consumers have hesitations to buy the product that they cannot touch or smell. While waiting to get used to the packaged product in domestic market we has an opportunity to develop ourselves in packaging technology. Domestic food products should be packed with techniques which are different from foreign countries as to food formations. This points the need for time to try, to follow, to stumble and to determine the truth. To enter the global competition on world markets, we should improve the efficiency, reduce costs and always keep the quality on top of the line with gradual mechanization in the preparation of the products that we offer both to domestic and to foreign market. For all of these activities, the development of packing culture with the utmost speed is a must.
SMART PACKAGE HOW SMART YOUR PACKAGE IS?
Let's say that you have struggled for years, you have invested large sums of money and made a product very popular and highly consumed in the market. Your products appear in all shelves. Then a consumer buys your product from the store by controlling the expiration date as always. The next day headlines in the newspapers: “The woman eating the product of so-and-so brand got poisoned.” All those years, efforts, brand value earned by scraping your fingernails go down the drain.
"Consumer brand trust" is a phenomenon that especially the food sector won hard but can be lost quickly.
That is why the food industry is in a constant research for quickly perishable food products which are sensitive to external factors: “to obtain a long shelf life without using of additives." In addition, consumers’ demanding better quality, healthier and fresh food with long shelf-life today has also led to new approaches and developments in packaging applications. In addition, as a result of a long work, food packaging has maintained a certain quality by spending time and money today. It continues to raise standards. But it is not just to develop high-quality packaging techniques with long shelf life. The health chain from production to consumption should not be broken up.
Even if the product is packed with advanced technology, the degradation process may start prematurely due to many reasons like storage, transport, stacking. Therefore the need for control mechanisms in existence until the last minute that the product meets the consumer was born: “Smart Packaging”.
Technological materials produced for intelligent packaging can be placed into the package in the form to contact with the product and also can be applied onto the packaging as a smart tag. Beside are capable of sending the information about the product to on a number of readers electronically, these materials may also be in a structure showing the quality of the product by color change which is visible to the consumer. Electronic systems are generally designed for retailers. Unit costs are more expensive.
Color-changing labels (TTI) are designed for the final user. The consumer can see the information on the labels of products, as well as freshness and quality of the product (spoiled or not) while buying from the market. Unit cost of them is very appropriate. But as the work progress, influence of both the type on packaging costs is decreasing.
Smart packaging systems are a technology that can control the environment inside the packaging and gives warnings by measuring the quality of the product as well as monitoring the existing protective/barrier status of the product. While checking the environmental conditions outside packaging, the indicators are placed inside or outside of the packaging provide information about the quality of food by measuring the gas concentration of the remaining headspace in the packaging product. During the time the product stay in packaging, there are various indicators measuring the packaging strength against heat, light, physical impact, microbiological deterioration and leaking. While some of the indicators are reacting with the food some can give information without any reaction.
Smart packaging can be divided into three categories according to their operating principle:
1. Sensor-operated smart packaging (Sensing, monitoring and alerting)
2. Smart packaging working with indicators (temperature, time, gas composition and microbiological monitoring)
3. Barcodes and Radio Frequency Identification Systems (RFID). (Product information, stock information, product tracking)
Electronic monitoring methods and combined solution applications that use a combination of physical monitoring methods are also used in the industry market.
Whatever technique is used, today packing technology turns towards "Smart Packaging" solution. To protect your investment and brand value, monitoring the quality of your product and making it monitored became inevitable the final user take the product to after home and consume it.
If you are using smart packaging applications, you must obtain support from individuals and organizations about all of these systems, how they work, how they are implemented, the cost of the applications, system certifications, and legal application and liabilities. Deciding what type of smart packaging applications in which product is an important issue. This advice prevents you to make wrong investments and make loss.