Big Data, IoT, and Food Packaging: The Future of Packaging Innovation

Big Data, IoT, and Food Packaging: The Future of Packaging Innovation

We found a great article from Moor Insights and Strategy in Forbes about big data and IoT trends taking over the food packaging industry. Chris Wilder from MI&S outlines the typical solutions that companies are using in food packaging today. We’ve done some testing around this in the past, but we are very interested in continuing to explore how consumers perceive these new types of packaging.

The Evolution of Food Packaging Technologies

Technologies are changing the way we view food packaging. We add a few other examples to the MI&S article throughout that we’ve seen in the marketplace making a splash.

Conventional Packaging

Brand marks and other imagery are used to make products stand out to consumers and compete with competitors. We work with a lot of clients in conventional packaging to help them find those subtle design innovations to be seen by consumers while unseen by competitors.

Hybrid Packaging

Packaging materials are designed to attract consumers through improved economics, shelf life, convenience, and sustainability. Hybrid packaging is so close to conventional packaging. We work with clients to improve these elements of packaging. While we focus on consumer perception, we have a team of dedicated packaging engineers to help companies develop packaging that meets all these needs.

Active Packaging

QR codes are placed on packaging to provide customers with the opportunity to engage with the brand and gain more information. One of our favorite active packaging products right now is Blippar. Check out how they are using augmented reality to engage and interact with customers at the shelf. Their technology is bringing packaging to life!

Interactive Packaging

Packaging materials are designed to interact with the environment, such as changing color once the product has expired. More and more of this technology is used for food safety and customer interaction. We would be interested to see if packaging with this technology outperforms competitors without it. Should there be a message to inform and educate the consumer about the new technology? This is where eye tracking comes into play…

Smart Packaging (IoT)

Sensors can be placed on packaging to allow companies to track products and gain readings of the environment around them, providing instant information regarding handling and safety conditions. Chris does a tremendous job explaining an example of how IoT is used with food safety in fresh fish.

An Example From Chris Wilder

“In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted one of the most far-reaching and influential regulations called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This legislation established new rules that allow the FDA to recall, suspend production and audit food service providers. The FSMA mandates that food suppliers identify and account for hazards, implement controls to prevent contamination, and monitor and record those controls. Data has become the fulcrum of food safety.

An area where there are considerable quality control challenges is in the fresh fish industry. Companies can now use Big Data and IoT sensory evaluation methods to determine objectively the freshness of fish off-the-boat using non-evasive devices like those developed by Seafood Analytics. These devices leverage electrical currents to determine if the fish was previously frozen, time on ice, time since harvest, and shelf life remaining. Further, using smart packaging, companies can embed sensors to track environmental conditions throughout the supply chain. Once at the point of sale, sensors and advanced safe and healthy radiant energy solutions, like those built by Vitabeam, can help prolong the products shelf life while killing harmful bacteria that accelerates the product’s decomposition.

Every node in the supply chain is recorded and verified from catch-to-consumption. This brings on additional economies of scale, reduces the risk of product recalls, and enables accountability across the industry.”

Another great example of Smart packaging is Package Tagz from iZipline. PackageTagz uses NFC technology that is directly built into the package as it is produced. The tech is being used to interact with consumers. The NFC pairs with the iZipline platform to collect valuable data for manufacturers and retailers. See an example of how the product is being used in recalls in the video below.

Our Thoughts

Chris does a fantastic job at explaining the core types of packaging and packaging technologies taking over the marketplace. We believe that technology in packaging will only increase as costs go down. However, we would like to test more of these technologies with users and consumers to better understand their impact. How useful are these technologies to users? Do active and smart packages need a better call-to-action for consumer engagement and purchase? Our team is excited to see how consumers perceive these types of packages and how they evolve into the future.

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