Technological developments have enabled packagers to ensure a higher degree of food protection, make products easier to use and help businesses to differentiate their products from the competition. In the 21st century, packaging is becoming a vital food quality and marketing tool.
For example, there has been a significant change in the canned food market. Metal cans are declining and being outperformed by flexible packets or cartons, such as Saupiquet's diced tuna in a Doypack, manufactured by Thimonier.
A major growth sector is packaging that caters for consumers with limited time for food preparation. One innovation on display at the show is the Plastobreiz tray, a transparent sealable microwaveable tray for omelettes or fresh ready-made food.
Environmentally friendly biodegradable packaging is another growth area, reflecting consumer and retailer awareness of the issue of waste disposal. A large number of packaging firms are launching products made of 100 per cent recycled materials, and there biodegradable inks are also increasingly evident on the market.
And finally, new packaging ideas have been developed in response to growing food manufacturer fears about food safety and tampering. Packaging is likely to perform a key role in establishing and maintaining consumer confidence.
New tamper-evident systems are on display at Emballage. For example SAS Artpack's Blis-Cart is a blister pack made of cardboard, which is cheaper than conventional PVC. The company claims that this offers the same tamper-evidence protection and product retrieval.
New packaging machinery has also been on display at Emballage. Major innovations have been made in the PET packaging sector, which continues to grow year on year. PET has become a key packaging material, and there has been huge demand for machines that allow greater flexibility in shape, volume and label changeovers.
New machines exhibited include ADS's blowing machine that can produce PET bottles of up to 30 litres at a rate of 300 to 600 bottles per hour. And Serac has launched the Canopy machine, which is dedicated to vegetable oil bottling and is equipped with a high-speed electronic filling system.
KHS's Innopack Primus SP 35 is also on display at Emballage. This machine combines shrink film wrapping and a shrink process tunnel downstream in a single production unit, with small space requirements.
But in every packaging sector, a key trend has been towards machinery that is increasingly integrated and takes up less plant space. The Sogem Group, for example, is presenting the FP-600-E, its latest generation of electronic multifunctional flowpack.
This incorporates functions ranging from automatic loading and stacking to grouping, and can process up to 600 parcels a minute.
The Emballage exhibition, which ran from the 22 November until today, boasted more than 2,000 exhibitors and welcomed more than 106,000 visitors. The show was held at the same time as IPA, the World Food Process Exhibition.