Catalisti collaborates on food packaging of the future


On 6 December, Pack4Food and the Flemish spearhead clusters Catalisti, Flanders' FOOD, VIL and SIM presented the Roadmap 'Food Packaging of the Future'. This roadmap sets out a common vision and strategy to launch projects on sustainable packaging in the coming years. In doing so, the spearhead clusters involved focus on three areas: more circular packaging, intelligent packaging and logistics processes.


Food companies use packaging to protect, preserve and communicate about their products. Moreover, packaging helps to avoid food loss. Yet there are also challenges related to the ecological impact of food packaging. The 'Food Packaging of the Future' roadmap explores how these challenges can be addressed in three concrete areas. Intensive cooperation between all relevant sectors ensures that the associated innovation projects are broad-based.

Circular packaging

"The challenge is to guarantee the quality and safety of food products and prevent food loss with as little packaging as possible," said Inge Arents, managing director of Flanders' FOOD. "Ecodesign is becoming the norm: aiming for reusable or recyclable packaging from the design stage. This is only possible by working together with all sectors involved. Couple that with sorting and recycling processes that recycle packaging as effectively as possible and you get circular packaging."

Smarter packaging

Packaging will need to make products more traceable and inform consumers about product quality and food safety faster and easier. This is why the Roadmap also aims to focus on active, intelligent (A&I) and personalised packaging. "With new, smarter packaging, we can avoid food loss and waste and reduce the overall carbon footprint of food products," says Hedwige Verherbrugghen, project manager at Pack4Food. "Deploying smart technologies in food packaging may sound like science fiction, but there is a lot of potential in it and there are already some applications on the market today. Just think of special printing on packaging e.g. a QR code, which can be read with an app on your smartphone and thus gives you information about e.g. the origin of the food product or at which fraction you should sort the packaging. Or think of small sensors in packaging that continuously measure the temperature and humidity of food packaging during transport and communicate this in real-time, both to supplier and customer."

Logistics processes

Without the right alignment of logistics processes throughout the food packaging chain, circular and smarter packaging makes little sense. The Roadmap therefore aims to identify new logistics needs and promote digital packaging platforms. "Digitalisation offers a lot of opportunities to share information more efficiently between all links of the chain and better align logistics processes. This is absolutely necessary to ensure that ecodesign also results in eco-impact down the line," says Eric Verlinden, manager transition domains at VIL. "Those logistics increasingly go right to the consumer's front door, via e-commerce, for example. That offers new opportunities but also additional challenges. With the Roadmap, we want to formulate answers to those developments in the coming years."

Besides Pack4Food and four spearhead clusters, the promising roadmap is also supported by the Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) and by all kinds of companies from across the value chain.