Reciprocating Nature, With Love
Sometimes, you get the opportunity to take part in something exciting and significant. The PLA4FOOD project, which I have the privilege to be involved in, is exactly that. PLA4FOOD aims to develop environmentally friendly packaging for the fruit and vegetables you buy in the supermarket. Not only will the packaging be environmentally friendly, but it will also keep the products fresher for longer – meaning that your vegetables will taste better when you eat them.
The PLA4FOOD project is led by Aimplas, a large plastics institute in Spain. Aimplas are collaborating with the Technion in Haifa, Poliraz (a plastic packs producer), and companies from nine countries – of which Strauss is one. We wouldn’t have been able to enter such a high-cost project without the opportunity presented by the EU, which supports food industries and research on improved food quality.
Prolonging the shelf life of our products
So, why am I so excited by this packaging research? Well, you’re used to the food you buy being perishable, but probably not the packaging it comes in. We hope that this project will change that. The packaging we’re designing is made of natural materials, and it will naturally decompose – making it eco-friendly. The plastic sheet we’re developing as a packaging alternative is divided into layers, with natural substances inserted between them to provide whatever it is that they’re wrapping with additional protection. We like to think of it as an extra skin for each fruit and vegetable we protect. This packaging will improve the quality and life-span of cut vegetables.
Another significant step in the consumption of fresh foods
Not only will PLA4FOOD improve the packing of cut fruit and vegetables, but it will also allow a reduction in thermal treatments and preservatives. Once we have a way to package all produce more effectively, the need for preservatives will lessen. We’re aiming to increase the shelf life of fresh vegetables by 30-40%. This will be a remarkable innovation – imagine how fresh that fruit will stay once you’ve brought it home!
If, and when, we succeed in our development of this new, semi-magical packaging, it will mean a complete change to the fruit and vegetables you buy in your local store. Shelf life will increase, and we’ll be able to improve the taste, smell, texture, and even the color of the produce for sale. The plastic sheet we’re developing can be formed into other shapes, and so this project could have implications for much of the other packaging you see in the supermarket – salads, dairy products… the sky is the limit!
For more information about this research project, please log on to:http://www.aimplas.es/proyectos/pla4food/