The food industry is exposed to high competitive pressure which leads to innovations. Hot topics are ovenable / microwaveable convenience foods that can be heated in packagings and eaten therefrom. A further critical issue is moisture management inside these packagings. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have the research and development capabilities to keep pace with big food and packaging companies on these topics. Therefore, innovations are addressed and transferred to SMEs by this public funded project PADS.
Following project aims are addressed by the research and development activities:
- Ovenable and microwaveable packagings lack a moisture management function. Liquid water allows microbial growth and deteriorates fibre based trays which lose their mechanical stability when wet. There is a need for packagings that adjust the relative humidity in the headspace and that absorb excess condensed water and water released during heating, without drying out the product. The issue is becoming serious due to a growing market for precooked chilled and frozen food. Moisture-managing and oil-absorbing pads made of modified by-product fibres will be developed in PADS.
- Consumers and regulators demand sustainable food packaging made of fibres and biopolymers. Relevant foods are organic and high value trend foods which are a speciality of SMEs. The packagings in PADS are made from market available cardboard which is sensitive to liquid water. The moisture-managing pads will open new applications for cardboard trays, i.e. wet foods. The film for closing the trays will be made of market available biopolymers. Relevant foods are organic foods and convenience foods.
- The packaging should add value to the product. The pads release aromas during food preparation. Therefore only the food surface is affected which leads to an aroma gradient in the food resulting in a better aroma profile which is preferred by customers.
- The food contact side of the pads is made of a market available susceptor film for optimal microwave transfer and heating of defined food spots which allows grilling and roasting. The property is relevant for SMEs which produce food specialities. Furthermore, the susceptor films heat up the food faster reducing preparation time. The consumer experience is highly improved and value is added to the food.
- Additionally, conformity will be evaluated especially in order to ensure suitability for microwave application. Testing such properties is expensive and time consuming. Migration data and recommendations need to be made available to SMEs in order to reduce innovation hurdles and allow better decision making processes. Migration testing and modelling is done in PADS.
The pre-competitive character and SME-focus of the project is provided by developing materials and generating results of high value for SMEs. The project consortium will consist of SMEs. In cooperation with the user committee exemplary foods are selected for which the design of the packaging is executed.
In the CorNet project PADS the institute CELABOR from Wallonia cooperates with Fraunhofer IVV. The research and development work is shared between both countries. By exchange of results and joint cooperation the collaboration between both regions is intensified.