General background information
All types of foodstuffs may have to be packed, but problems arise when the packaging is not suitable for the food it contains. In the case of breathing foodstuffs, i.e. produce that actively consumes oxygen and expels carbon dioxide, the levels of permeability of the packaging are not tailored to the food they contain, leading at best to a reduced shelf-life and at worst to anoxia. Food becomes unfit for consumption, and this adds to the ever growing amount of waste generated by industry and society. The products affected are primarily fresh fruits and vegetables, and portioned cheeses, which are packed either in materials with an excessively strong gas barrier to oxygen and carbon dioxide, or into micro or macro perforated films, which do not offer any barrier at all, and of course are incapable of selectively controlling the gas exchange. In neither case is any exchange selectivity between the two gases possible.
Need for the project from the viewpoint of SMEs
Packaging materials with different oxygen and carbon dioxide permeabilities would provide companies in the food sector with improved preservation of their produce once put on the market. Eventually, food wastage would be reduced dramatically. Packaging manufacturers and suppliers are able to respond to this need from the food companies and to provide them with packaging materials adapted to the different types of foods. This would be a clear competitive advantage. In addition, these new packaging materials need to be recyclable (e.g. reuse of process waste) and biodegradable (e.g. based on paper/board and biopolymers). The development of films or trays with selective permeability will prevent the kind of problem discussed above and will give food producers the best conditions for preserving their products.