Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

Benson GroupThe Benson Group is one example of an innovative packaging manufacturer in the UK. Above: “Benson’s design team created packaging with a concorra opening and carry handle, adding a point of difference for a leading popcorn brand.”
The Benson Group (www.bensongroup.co.uk)

What packaging can supermarket customers recycle these days?

For the last few years there have been enormous efforts made in this country to reduce packaging materials used to protect our food and make it safe. We now have thinner cardboard outer packaging, thinner cans for our canned foods, ever lighter-weight glass containers without mentioning the plethora of plastics materials that have been reduced in thickness.

There are now more packs than ever that tell you that they cannot yet be recycled, only in a few local council areas, or only at your local supermarket.

So many jobs have been lost in the packaging and converting industries through quantity reductions in the UK. How much time is wasted by all those committees and government-funded organisations to arrive at this situation.

We all want to do our bit to save the planet apparently, but we are stymied by regulations that do not necessarily work. We still want to buy a pack of food that does not fall apart. A pack that can be opened safely without the paper ripping, the foil tearing, or simply the weight of the product being too much for the container.

There is still a great deal of work to be done. We are lucky in this country as we enjoy a British food industry that has a huge pool of talent from food technologists, engineers, packaging technologists and production people who make sure that our food is safe. Other countries look to the UK to lead in this area, let us make sure that it happens.

Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

Henkel_InterpackHenkel, an adhesives manufacturer for the packaging industry, showcased numerous innovations and proven adhesives systems at Interpack 2014. Committed to food packaging safety, they have also launched an initiative to support the fight against global food wastage. 

At last it looks as though the supermarkets have realised that we do not all want two packs for the price of one, the famous BOGOF deal, so hopefully for most people needing less rather than more, we shall now reduce the amount of food waste. At least it is a start.

It is noticeable that the pricing strategy at supermarkets is now all over the place. It is little wonder that the food manufacturers and particularly the suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables are not that happy with their ‘remuneration’.

Next, up we come to my hardy perennial, packaging and packaging waste. It appears that quite a few local authorities in the UK now collect from households, who are required to sort into different bins and boxes, but the collectors now put everything together – for re-sorting later presumably.

There are many new developments in the packaging industry and undoubtedly we will be able to see even more at the forthcoming Interpack Show in Düsseldorf this May. There are numerous new ideas for creating packs for the ever-increasing ready meals markets of the world as the new product developers of our food industry deliver ever better products, ever more adventurous dishes. The burgeoning middle class in India and China are creating an expanding market for better quality products that are better packaged, in particular they are looking for prepared meals.

Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

Binsted Lecture

Spring is here and we have a batch of important exhibitions taking place in the coming month or two.

Exhibitions that we have visited recently covering the machinery sector have been well attended and more importantly the exhibitors have told us of their surprise at the level of genuine enquiries that they received. It looks as though business confidence is coming back across the food industries and people are prepared to invest in the latest technology in food processing equipment, packaging equipment, robotics and indeed in hygienic pallet systems and end-of-line equipment.

It will be interesting to see if this new found confidence continues at Alimentaria in Barcelona, Interpack in Dusseldorf, and the shows covering the catering industry as well.

Spring may be here but then so is the wet weather as was predicted by the Met Office. This is a double-edged sword as we need the rain for the crops but those who have been flooded will not take too kindly to more water. As I said in my last article, the flooding of large areas of agricultural land will both take time to dry out and will be affected by the standing water that means it could take a long time to come back into agricultural production.

For our technologists and scientists we are looking forward to the Institute of Food Science & Technology’s 50th Anniversary Conference in London this May which this year will also include the Annual Binsted Lecture.

Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

The topic of the moment is food sustainability, which by any other name, is how to feed an expanding world population. Part of the challenge is to improve the nutritional composition, the quality and the quantity of food from agricultural sources and to prevent the enormous post harvest losses in so many countries due to pests and to lack of transport infrastructure.

What is being discussed at the moment are the breeding technologies for grains and oil seeds; how to create new crops using traditional grafting and cross pollination techniques. Let us explore the future of genetically-modified crops which can give such huge increases at harvest; their safety in the food chain; How the wider use of these foods can be properly explained to consumers, is currently entertaining the minds of those much more knowledgeable than myself.

We do not want another fiasco as we had with irradiated foods when certain forms of food poisoning could have been wiped out at a stroke. except for the appalling publicity put out by misinformed people in the 1960s, and propagated by the mass media at the time: The ramifications are still with us today.

We have to continue with the steps being undertaken by the scientific community to create new test methods for the authentication of foodstuffs and their ingredients in the whole supply chain. We must find new analytical methods to prove provenance beyond doubt to assuage the curiosity of people encouraged by the mass media and by TV cooks.

We must find new methods to stamp out locusts, and to eradicate weeds and bacteria in our universal agricultural crops today, so that people can eat tomorrow. I go back to my mantra: Let the scientists get on with expanding out harvests, take the politicians, the quangos and the do-gooders out of the equation, so that our industry, the largest industry and the largest industrial employer in the UK, can help to provide good, nutritious food to feed the world in the coming years.