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Insect-repellent coating for food packages

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSECTBARRIER (Insect-repellent coating for food packages)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2016-01-01 al 2016-06-30

Rice and dry pasta products are highly consumed across Europe and the rest of the World. Both products are among the four most sensitive products to insect infestation (along with wheat and maize grains). Rice and dry pasta producers are highly concerned about this problem and they apply a great effort in controlling insect infestation at their production facilities. However, once the food product is packed they can be stored for periods of up to 36 months and are thus largely exposed to a class of insects which constitute the primary pests in warmer parts of the world; the granary weevil (Sitophilus granarius) and the rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae).
Insect infestations of packed food products occur mainly during transport, distribution and storage in warehouses, logistics centres and retail stores. In this process, the primary packages containing the food are usually grouped into a secondary cardboard packaging element for transport, distribution, and storage. Cardboard is the most used material constituting the secondary packaging for pasta and rice. Cardboard secondary packaging protects the food product along distribution and it is also used as a merchandising unit for displaying the product in retail outlets (e.g. box pallets).
Weevils penetrate easily through cardboard materials through seals, pinholes and other physically damaged points, becoming the most significant entry channel. European consumers are especially sensitive to finding insects in the food they consume. Just one infested package has huge consequences for food companies and retailers related to complaints, economic penalties and brand image damages.
Our company, Inesfly, is specialised in the development and production of new and more efficient products to combat all kind of pests. The patented technology to microencapsulate insecticides, including natural insect repellents, is applied to several finished products such as paints, coatings and watery dispersions for surface treatments and INSECTBARRIER represents a great market opportunity to extend this technology to the food-packaging sector. Market figures are huge, with more than 30,000 and 15,000 million units of packaging production for rice and pasta, respectively, growing at a rate higher than 3% each year. The European region contributes to the global production with a market share of 10% and 40%, for rice and pasta, respectively, involving Spain, Italy, France and Germany as main producers.
The main objective of the action is to develop a feasibility study on the potential introduction of the natural insect repellent coating solution in the paperboard market for dry pasta and rice products, including a technical feasibility study, stakeholder assessment, market study, and the elaboration of a business plan.
At phase I, Inesfly undertook a Feasibility Study to evaluate Inesfly’s insect repellent coating technology to cardboard secondary packaging for rice and dry pasta products and therfore, reduce risks. This study was focused on four key areas: a) technical feasibility analysis, b) market analysis, c) stakeholder assessment, and d) business plan.
A technical feasibility assessment of different insect repellent products has been carried out in Phase 1. This work included the selection of some potential active agents coming from natural origin and its encapsulation following Inesfly’s technology. The incorporation of the insect repellent capsules to coating solutions for paperboard coating & printing applications was the following step to be evaluated. The coating products for the paperboard industry requires very well defined properties such as pH, density or viscosity to be correctly applied by the coater machines at the industrial level. In this regard, the final products were evaluated at laboratory scale using an equipment of flexography. All the different products that were used to coat paperboard substrates showed an adequate machine performance and provided finished articles with good adhesion, homogeneous surface coatings and grammages within the normal values in flexography. Finally, the efficacy tests performed showed some interesting results for some of the systems although more tests are needed to optimize formulations. Therefore, INSECTBARRIER will follow with the work in the modification of the formulations as well as in the evaluation of other key technical aspects identified in the interviews with the different agents in the supply chains such as food safety and migration issues, recyclability and shelf life of the insect repellent cardboard materials. Another aspect to be further evaluated is related to the legal and regulatory framework applicable to this kind of solution.
On the other hand, a market study with potential consumers in the food (dry pasta and rice categories), paperboard packaging industry and retailers in European countries were carried out to find out what interest, acceptance and therefore, market potential exist for INSECTBARRIER. The results show that there is a demonstrated market interest for this new solution due to its accurate approach to customers’ needs. New insect repellent coating for food products should focus at the beginning on fulfilling the key factors the industry is requiring: effectiveness over time (at least 6 months), food contact aptitude and safety, no toxic and no odour migration. Accomplishing these requirements, there is a clear opportunity to penetrate in the food industry.
Finally, a business plan has been elaborated. It has included the study of the business model, competitive advantages, market and customer analysis, value proposition, and commercial and marketing plan. Moreover, this work has been structurated taking into account the results of the coaching plan which has been compiled in a financial plan.
INSECTBARRIER brings an innovative solution to reduce the insect infestations that rice, pasta and other type of food packed products such as flour or legumes are suffering. This problem is of special concern for food packers and retailers due to the significant impact that this problem has for customers.
Both agents are willing to apply solutions eradicating this problem even if an extra cost needs to be assumed. Food producers already invest money in controlling insect infestations at their facilities and the application of additional solutions are welcome. Therefore, this project represents an important economic opportunity for Inesfly in terms of expanding the technology to other markets and diversifying our business potential.
The project will increase the size of the company in terms of economic value with a significant increase in the net present value of the company. The production of the new products will generate new jobs into the company both at production level but also into the R&D department. Inesfly is focused in developing technology and therefore INSECTBARRIER brings the opportunity of increasing our R&D human team. This will boost our core business model more focused on commercializing insecticidal paints for control of pest and vectors.
In a wider societal implication, the INSECTBARRIER project will have positive impacts as consequence of reducing food waste both at environmental and social level. Finally, Inesfly, through her founder Dr. Pilar Mateo who is also the founder and President of MOMIM, will continue working on world projects focused on helping third world countries concerning health improvement and eradication of endemic diseases. INSECTBARRIER constitutes a new tool to improve the conditions of basic food products such as cereals protecting them from insect infestations.
Efficacy test of the paperboard treated with INSECTBARRIER
Paperboard treated with INSECTBARRIER