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Antimicrobial food packaging - Overview and forecast - 2020 to 2025
Friday, 30 October, 2020, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Sreeparna Pal
Nowadays food preservation, quality maintenance, and safety are major growing concerns of the food industry. Faulty manufacturing practices and poor hygiene practice lead to food spoilage. Food spoilage is the process of contamination of foods leading to loss of colour, texture, and their nutritive value and permits growth of pathogenic microbes, which deteriorates the quality of the product and makes it non-edible.

Antimicrobial packaging is thought to be a subset of active packaging system, is a novel development which impregnates antimicrobial agent into a polymer film to suppress the activities of targeted microorganisms over the stipulated period of time that are contaminating foods and increasing the shelf life.

Antimicrobial activity can be achieved by adding antimicrobial agents in the packaging system to prevent the growth of microbes by extending the lag period and decreasing live counts of microorganisms by reducing growth rate. Antimicrobial packaging system is specifically designed to control the microorganisms that adversely affect the shelf life, quality, and safety of the food products.

There is also a requirement for an efficient method for the delivery of antimicrobial substances into food packaging materials. Addition of antimicrobials directly into food which is called as formulation, and food wrapping films is regulated by FDA which specifies safety levels of the antimicrobial substances that could be added to food.

The addition of antimicrobials instantly in food packaging film formulations often results in instant inhibition of undesired microorganisms and prevents microbial growth on the food surface by direct contact of the packaging material with the surface of foods. This is the reason for which the antimicrobial packaging film should ensure its contact with food surface leading to diffusion of antimicrobial agent to its surface.

However, the survivor population will continue to grow, as soon as antimicrobials added will get depleted. This is primarily due to complex interactions with the food matrix or by natural degradation with time. The antimicrobial activity is lost or decreased because of inactivation of the antimicrobial agent by components of food or their considerable dilution below active concentration after their migration into the foods.

There are different kinds of application of antimicrobial agents in packaging films. However, a polymer-based film solution coating has proved to be the most desirable method in terms of stability of attaching a bacteriocin to a plastic packaging film. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) packaging film was coated with nisin using derivatives of natural polymers like methylcellulose (MC) and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) as a carrier. Nisin was found suppressing the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes.

The growing concern with antimicrobial food packaging is the extrapolation of laboratory results into that of the real world. The increase in demand for antimicrobial food packaging, especially from the food and beverage sector is estimated to inspire the market in the future.

Moreover, the presence of upgraded directives for food packaging around the world due to outbreaks of diseases is estimated to promote the antimicrobial food packaging market. The antimicrobial packaging market was valued at US$8.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$12.4 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5.89% over the forecast period 2020-2025.

Increasing awareness about consumer health and greater shelf life of products has resulted in improved usage for antimicrobial packaging products. The major market players will be the manufacturers, raw material suppliers, equipment suppliers, end users, traders, and distributors. Market is changing rapidly with the ongoing expansion of the industry. Advancement in the technology has provided today’s businesses with multifaceted advantages resulting in daily economic shifts. Thus, it is very important for a company to comprehend the patterns of the market movements in order to strategise better.   

(The author is product development associate at Mars Wrigley India Pvt Ltd, Haryana. She can be contacted at
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