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February 2020- How IoP Can Connect the Packaged Food Value Chain

  • Packaging Technology and Research
pg 80 02.20
by Claire Koelsch Sand
How IoP Can Connect the Packaged Food Value Chain
The Internet of Packaging (IoP) is the
application of the Internet of Things to
packaging. I t is an expansive area that
has the potential to address new and old
challenges in the packaged food industry. IoP
facilitates autonomous data capture, event
transfer, network connectivity, and interop-
erability when it is aligned with the Fourth
Industrial Revolution, which links physical,
biological, and digital sciences. Consumer,
retailer, brand owner, packaging, and ingredi-
ent supplier levels have already been
enhanced by IoP, and meaningful value can
be transferred by linking the entire value
chain with IoP.
IoP has the most potential when it is
applied across the value chain. The need for
more sustainable foods and packaging, less
food and packaging waste, improved
authentication of products, enhanced
food safety, better branding, and
improved tracking and tracing of prod-
ucts creates a plethora of IoP
opportunities. The engagement of the
entire value chain enhances benefits and
lowers the cost of implementation. For
example, IoP can reduce food waste by
assessing shelf life via smell,
vision, and taste sensors;
address food safety via
tracking and tracing;
enable more reuse and
recycling by conveying
location-specific pack-
age disposal information;
and increase efforts to
make the sourcing of food and
packaging materials more sustainable.
IoP and Branding
Consumers have experienced smart packag-
ing that connects them with product brands,
but IoP has the potential to do more. IoP pro-
vides enhanced agility and the oppor tunity to
create meaningful connections between
consumers and brands. Operational effi-
ciency is high in many manufacturing
environments, and the focus is on high vol-
ume production. But manufacturing
packaged foods that are sold to consumers
six to 24 months later does not always align
well with the most recent consumer trends.
To address this, IoP gathers consumer infor-
mation to guide manufacturing needs. IoP
can provide real-time consumer feedback on
frequency, time of use, and personalized
additions to guide more agile manufacturing;
it can provide a direct link to consumers who
shop at brick-and-mortar stores or purchase
goods online. Essentially, IoP serves as an
from brand
owners to consumers:
IoP allows brands to enter
into consumer homes and add value when
consumers interact with packages. For
example, augmented realit y and voice tech-
nology can offer unique engagement
activities through packaging along with
repeat sales— driving brands deeper in the
Packaging equipped with augmented
realit y capabilities such as Snapchat-based
digital scans on McDonald’s packaging and
the images and sounds of polar bears and
holiday music on Coke cans are being used to
elevate and control the consumer-brand con-
nection. Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauce will
soon be available in a sustainable jar that
connects to an app through which Mrs.
Rinaldi can speak to consumers about the
product. This type of IoP integration can be
expanded to allow packaging to provide more
meaningful consumer experiences with
brands. With IoP assistance, food fraud and
recalls can be guided by data that pinpoints
the source of fraud or other brand-damaging
issues in seconds versus weeks.
IoP and Package Was te
IoP packaging could be used to provide
consumers with location-specific
disposal information,
which would facili-
tate appropriate
recycling, reuse,
incineration, or
composting of
packaging waste.
IoP technologies can
also be configured to
potentially give consumers the
abilit y to get rewarded for their environ-
mental efforts. In areas where package
collection generates revenue and in commu-
nities with higher disposal fees due to poor
sorting, this would assign a value to proper
package disposal. When more advanced IoP
replaces current label capabilities, location
specifici ty can link to local deposit return
systems. After being collected, packaging
waste must be sorted and correctly handled.
IoP sys tems can track collection and sorting,
gathering information on which company’s
Kotkamills’ foodservice packaging employs QR
codes , which allow st akeholde rs to share in formati on
throughout the value chain. Photo
courtesy of Kotkamills
02.20 pg
packaging was received, the speed at which
it was sorted, and where it was sent for pro-
cessing (i.e., recycling, reuse, landfill,
composting, or incineration). T his can be
used to assign disposal costs as well as pro-
vide direction for the development of
packaging that is appropriately handled in the
post-consumer environment. When informa-
tion can be supplied from packaging disposal,
manufacturers and post-consumer handlers
gain knowledge to drive the circular economy
and increase recycling and reuse efficien-
cies. For example, Kotkamills, a Finland-
based company, provides QR codes that
inform consumers about the proper disposal
of its paperboard-based foodservice
IoP, Food Safety, and Food Waste
IoP also connects with consumers to improve
food safety and reduce food waste. For exam-
ple, blockchain-based IoP works securely
and autonomously, enabling tight track-and-
trace through the entire value chain, which
improves food safety for consumers.
“Blockchain traceabilit y enables exponen-
tially fast and accurate identification of a
contaminated product and speeds investiga-
tions and recoveries. Pilots such as
Carrefour’s in France demonstrate that con-
sumers purchase more food that is tracked
via blockchain than food not tracked by block-
chain,” says Dawn Jutla, co-CEO and
president of Peer Ledger. Recent outbreaks
of E. coli in romaine lettuce, Salmonella in
pork, and the presence of per- and poly fluo-
roalkyl substance migrants in packaging
highlight the need for improved tracking and
tracing in food as well as in packaging.
Bumble Bee Foodsputs QR codes on packag-
ing, which allows consumers to know the
source of tuna within the package. IoP tech-
nologies that address food safet y will be
instrumental to the updated food safety
approach under the Food Safety
Modernization Act.
To address food waste, sensors with
detection limits for oxygen, other single
molecules, or specific microorganisms
employ technology adapted from the medical
industry and have been constructed to
address chemically complex quality factors
such as taste, odor, toxicit y, or freshness. In
another scenario, after a product’s expiration
date passes or af ter the product has been
exposed to temperature and humidi ty that
reduces its quality, sensors can release acti-
vated carbon to deactivate the product so
that it can be disposed of properly by the
IoP and Sustainable Practices
Increasingly, consumers want to know the
source of packaging (e.g., sustainable for-
ests, fossil fuels, iron or bauxite mines,
recycled content, number of times reused),
how it was produced (solar, wind, fossil
fuels), and its proper disposal. However,
without track and trace from packaging con-
verters, this is not possible. Track and trace is
needed in packaging because packaging is
the culmination of work at many packaging
converters. For example, a five-layer flexible
film is typically the result of extraction,
polymerization, coextrusion, printing, and
lamination—each stage performed at dif fer-
ent packaging converters. The inability to
track and trace package contaminants to the
root cause or locations hampers the safety of
the food system. IoP technology such as
blockchain can enable track and trace, inhibit
further damage, and hold the source of the
contamination responsible. Starting at the
packaging supplier and continuing through-
out the value chain, tracking and tracing add
value and jus tify the cost of the technology.
IoP can also make an enhanced connection
between consumers and brands on product
sustainability. For example, Nestlé employs
augmented reality linked to a smar tphone to
create associations bet ween Milka chocolate
and animal welfare.
IoP and Ret ail, Foodservice, and Other Channels
With unharmonized standards and multiple
software and hardware systems as well as
IoP technologies such a s blockchain c onnect the v alue chain . © Prasit R odphan /iSto ck/Ge tty Im ages Plu s
pg 82 02.20
How IoP Can Connect the Packaged Food Value Chain continued...
security obs tacles, IoP represents an over-
whelming set of new challenges for retailers,
foodservice providers, and alternate food
provider channels. IoP is sprouting in every
aspect of the retail value chain and shopping
experience. For example, consumers walking
through South Korean subways can scan Q R
codes from packaging and order the products
from their phones. Hema’s digitalized stores
in China use freshness sensors and smar t
tags that change prices based on competition
and promotions and tags notify workers
when to replenish or rotate the s tock. Kroger
uses ZigBee retail services to bring smar t-
phone applications, point-of-sale devices,
and streaming video together in one platform
to reduce theft and track inventory.
SmartLabel QR codes on products allow con-
sumers to interact with the SmartLabel
website, which then provides information to
supply chain stakeholders. Autonomous sys-
tems minimize warehouse time while
delivering the product to a physical s tore or
home. IoP can also help reduce food was te at
retail and foodservice establishments. “IoP
blockchain traceability reduces food waste
… because there are accurate records of
where contaminated materials have traveled.
This avoids the need to discard millions of
pounds of food as a precaution due to
uncertaint y of whether products are contam-
inated,” Jutla says. IoP can be applied to
increase viable food donations from retailers
to alternate channels such as food deposito-
ries and pantries and facilitate the rapid
balance of food as well as nutrients available
for their clients. In reusable foodservice
packaging, IoP uses sensors that change
color when the exact time and temperature
required for sterilization are achieved to
enhance the food safety of reusable foodser-
vice packaging. While all of this represents
exciting developments, many standards, con-
figurations, plans, guidelines, and so on must
occur to make IoP successful. FT
Clair e Koelsc h Sand, Ph D, Contr ibut ing Edito r
• CEO , Packag ing Tech nology a nd Rese arch
• Adjunct Professor
Consumers have experienced smart packaging that connects them
with product brands, but IoP has the potential to do more.
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