Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New food packaging material

An EU team has developed a bio-based material applied to controlling gas mixtures inside fresh food packages. Following design and testing, the team improved the protein-based material enough to demonstrate suitability for fruit and vegetable packaging.
New food packaging material
Air causes packed fruit and other food products to degrade, but replacing the air inside packaging with other gases can extend foods' freshness. Called modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), the technique is complex and requires understanding of the specific interactions between food products and packaging.

The EU-funded MULTIMAP (A multiphysics approach to optimize modified atmospheres for packaging of respiring food products) project developed new bio-based food packaging materials.

The team initially focused on assessing the suitability of bio-based and biodegradable nanocomposites and foam materials for MAP use. The team considered polylactic acid (PLA), which is commercially available, and also protein-based films under development. Researchers compared the permeability of both materials, under various conditions, against current plastics such as low-density polyethylene and polyamide (PA6). Results revealed the weak barrier properties of protein-based materials, for which the team proposed improvements. Hence, the team developed promising new materials.

Researchers then evaluated the new materials' suitability for application in fruit and vegetable packaging, and compared the new options against other bio-based products. The team assessed gas dynamics within the packages, showing that PLA pouches helped maintain packaged food quality while protein-based materials did not. Subsequently, they improved the protein-based materials enough to make them suitable for fruit and vegetable packaging.

Lastly, investigators developed models to predict gas changes inside packaging. The team studied the permeability of bio-based and microperforated materials, thereby improving the models and yielding accurate predictions.

MULTIMAP's new packaging materials and models offer potential for extending food freshness. The innovation helps reduce wastage and improve profitability.

Related information


Life Sciences


Food packaging, bio-based, protein-based material, modified atmosphere packaging, MULTIMAP
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