The demand for ready-to-eat, minimally processed and easily prepared food is increasing day-by-day. Initially packaging of these foods was basically to provide protective and barrier functions, against physical and environmental damages. However, the growth or spoilage due to microorganisms in the packaged foodstuff has still continued to cause problems regarding food safety and quality. To deal with this problem, the concept of ‘Active Packaging’ was introduced, where different active substances are incorporated into the packaging material to improve its functionality. Antimicrobial food packaging is one form of active packaging, where use of materials with antimicrobial properties is involved.
The main aim of this type of packaging is to achieve high quality, safety and long shelf life by reducing or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms, which may be present in the packed food or the packaging material itself. The most desired property of antimicrobial packaging material for food is the controlled release of antimicrobial agent. A rapid or slow release would result in spoilage of packaged food.
Several factors must be taken into account in the design or modelling of the antimicrobial film or package. It is clear that the selection of both the substrate and the antimicrobial substance is important in developing an antimicrobial packaging system.
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- Condition of processing antimicrobial activity residue
- Microbial substance and food characteristics
- Additives interaction with film matrix
- Temperature for storage
- Packaging material properties
One of the major drivers of the antimicrobial packaging market, is the increasing demand for packaged food. Increasing number of working women, migration of people from urban to rural areas, and rise in disposable income in emerging economies, are the factors that fuel the demand of packaged food. At times, packaged food is preferred over fresh food, because of the safety of quality and hygiene. Moreover, it is convenient and made tasty.
Antimicrobial packaging industry has an opportunity to enter the beverage packaging industry, where antimicrobial agents can be used to increase the shelf life of alcoholic, non-alcoholic and dairy-based drinks. Flavored milk, fruit juices, wines, etc. can be packaged using antimicrobial films. Antimicrobial packaging can also be used for cosmetic packaging, which would improve the quality and shelf life of the products.
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The antimicrobial packaging ingredients for food packaging market is segmented on the basis of antimicrobial agent type, food type and packaging film type. Antimicrobial agents are divided into chemical antimicrobial agents and natural antimicrobial agents. Chemical antimicrobial agents are further segmented into benzoic acid and potassium sorbate, and natural antimicrobial agents are segmented into nisin, lysozymes and lactoperoxidase. The market on the basis of food type is divided in to baby food, snacks and fresh food. On the basis of the type of film used for packaging, the market is segmented into low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), paperboard, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), cellophane and polyethylene (PE).
The antimicrobial packaging ingredients for food packaging market is segmented on the basis of regions into North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ), Middle East & Africa (MEA) and Japan. North America & Europe are estimated to be the market leaders in the industry. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing region during the forecast period. There are heavy expenditures in the R&D segment of the companies, to introduce improved antimicrobial packaging films ingredients for food packaging.
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The major players in the antimicrobial packaging ingredients for food packaging industry are, Mondi Group (Austria), BioCote (U.K.), LINPAC Packaging (England), OPLON (Israel), Amcor Ltd. (Australia) and Sealed Air (U.S.). A lot of food technology companies are venturing with food packaging players to launch antimicrobial films in the market.