Every seventh person in the world suffers from malnutrition.
At the same time, we in the Western World throw away huge quantities of food.
Save Food, the initiative supported by UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), will be introduced at Scanpack at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, Gothenburg.
The thinking is simple – better packaging can help to reduce world starvation.
Save Food, a combined exhibition and conference, will receive its Scandinavian premiere at Scanpack, the largest packaging fair in Scandinavia, to be held at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg in October 2015.
The initiative comes from Interpack in Düsseldorf, the world's largest packaging exhibition, in collaboration with UNFAO and UNEP. At the time of writing some 200 industrial companies have been quick off the mark to join the project.
Anna-Lena Friberg, Exhibition Manager for Scanpack, welcomes the Save Food initiative.
“We’re extremely pleased to be able to include this kind of sustainability issue in our agenda. Something that is, in the highest degree, about the survival of humanity. It’s an issue that affects everyone, both locally and globally,” she says.
According to UNFAO, almost a billion people suffer from malnutrition or starvation. While we, in the rich part of the world, throw away 25 per cent of all the food we buy, i.e. the equivalent of every fourth bag of groceries we buy ends up in the garbage.
All this wasted food could feed the hungry people of the world three times over. In fact, just half of America's wasted food, for example, would be enough to feed all the starving people on earth.
The problem is how can we achieve this? Part of the answer lies in better packaging.
Elisabeth Borch, head of microbiology and process hygiene at SIK, the
Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, is one of the people who
can see the possibilities.
“Better packaging, combined with improved process hygiene, would definitely increase the opportunities for feeding the world,” she says.
“All solutions that preserve, and inhibit the processes that break down the food, create greater possibilities to reduce waste”.
The actvities of microorganisms determine how long chilled foods stay viable.
“Low temperatures reduce the growth rate of microorganisms. And the packaging can make a significant contribution to the life length of the food,” says Elisabeth Borch.
“The principle is that the less oxygen and the more carbon dioxide in the pack, the slower the growth of microorganisms.”
“By modifying the atmosphere, i.e. changing from ordinary air to carbon dioxide in the packaging, you also change the microflora.”
“In this way you also avoid fast-growing bacteria, which form substances that smell very bad and break down food in a few days. While a modified atmosphere favours lactic acid bacteria that grow much slower.”
The life length of the food increases. And the difference is dramatic, according to Elisabeth Borch.
“A piece of meat that keeps for three days in an ordinary pack, could well keep for three weeks in a modified atmosphere package without oxygen.”
And she sees even greater opportunities for improvements:
“The ideal is to retain the modified atmosphere even after opening. For example, by using a valve system instead of breaking open the package.”
“The bag-in-box system used for wines is a good example. The same method could be used for virtually all liquid products. It would give milk, juice and similar products a considerably longer shelf life”.
Greatly increased shelf life offers greater leeway for preventing food wastage. In addition, logistics are simplified, as are the possibilities to actually get the food to starving people around the world.
processing and packaging capacity would also be of benefit to food
production in the Third World, where much of what is now wasted could be
According to UNFAO some 45 per cent of fruit and vegetables are lost during storage and transport. Reducing this so-called shrinkage would mean that farmland, water and energy could be used more efficiently, while CO2 emissions would be reduced.
Scanpack is northern Europe's largest meeting place for the packaging industry. The next fair takes place 20-23 October 2015 at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg.
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