Nano-enabled packaging is the fruit of revolution in the packaging industry. Nano-enabled packaging utilizes nano materials, with diameter less than 100 nanometers, to manufacturing packaging materials. Nano-enabled packaging is extensively employed in food & beverage and pharmaceutical packaging and has exhibited strong acceptance in the market. Nano-enabled packaging provides longer shelf life to perishable food and beverages. Nano-enabled packaging has been found to improve attributes such as taste, texture, color and consistency of the packaged food. It increases absorption and the bio availability of nutrients in foodstuffs. Among the various nano particles used in this industry, nanoclay, silver and titanium nitride have the largest applications. Nanoclay is the most used material owing to its cheap availability and utility in popular thermoplastics such as polypropylene, PET, nylon and thermoplastic polyolefin.
Technology can broadly classify nano-enabled packaging into active packaging, controlled release packaging and intelligent packaging. Active packaging refers to the package having functions other just protection and containment of the product. Controlled release packaging, a sub segment of active packaging, enables release of active compounds at a controlled rate over the period of storage of the food product in order to maintain its quality and nutrition quotient. Intelligent packaging has the ability to sense alteration in packaging environment and communicate the same. It can indicate the quality of the packaged product through intelligent sensors. By applications the market can be segmented into pharmaceutical, beverages, bakery products, meat products, fruits and vegetables and prepared food.
The nano-enabled packaging market is driven by the growth in demand for packaged food products across the world. Nano-enabled packaging provides significant benefits over conventional packaging techniques and is hence gaining in acceptance and demand from all end use application industries. Growth in packaged meat industry has exhibited exceptional growth over the years and has been the source of one of the highest demands for nano-enabled packaging. Pharmaceutical application of nano-enabled packaging is one of the largest applications of the technology. Over the past few decades, medical and pharmaceutical advancements have created need of improved packaging for enhanced protection against external attributes such as light, moisture and air. Moreover, drug packaging plays a very important role in the drug delivery process in modern treatments, thereby increasing the demand for enhanced packaging technologies such as nano-enabled drug packaging.
The market has been further propelled by regulations by government bodies promoting use of nano-enabled packaging to ensure food safety. For instance FDA recommends food and beverages packaging by means of nano-enabled packaging technique. The market has tremendous growth opportunity especially in emerging markets, where its penetration is low. However some nanomaterials not compatible with certain food materials and the manufacturers need to obtain approval from Central Federal Register (CFR), in the US, for indirect food additives.
Among the different technologies of active packaging, oxygen scavenger, barrier packaging and moisture absorbers are the most common technologies occupying the lion’s share of the market. The nano-enabled packaging market is led by demand for Japan in Asia. There is high demand for this packaging technology in North America and the market has exhibited strong growth. The market in Europe is lukewarm, but is expected to pick up soon with the introduction of Actipak project. High opportunity exists in emerging Asian economies such as China and India, where packaged food and beverage market has been increasing at a rapid pace.
Some of the major companies involved in the nano-enabled packaging market are Amcor Limited, Honeywell International, Inc., BASF SE, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC and Sonoco Products Company among many others.
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