Packaging is primarily meant to ensure that products reach end users in a practical and convenient way, with as little damage as possible. How this is achieved largely depends on the properties of the packaged product and the related packaging requirements. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has broad experience in the packaging requirements of a wide variety of products; from fresh products such as food and flowers to electronics and chemicals.
Packaging should ensure that the product remains undamaged during transport and storage by external influences such as shaking, moisture and excessively hot or cold temperatures. Moreover, the packaging should prevent the packaged product from harming its surroundings. This is the case for products such as hazardous chemicals, for example. In our material laboratory we can test sample materials with regard to these requirements.
Packaging fresh products
Food products come with very specific requirements for packaging material. Food can spoil if not properly packaged and stored, and the material should not affect the flavour and safety of the food. Over the decades we have built up expertise in aspects that affect the decay of fresh products. The requirements for the packaging of food products vary a great deal. Meat and fish, for instance, benefit from airtight, oxygen-free packaging, while the packaging of vegetables and fruit should be oxygen permeable. Fresh meals in supermarkets are an example of especially difficult products to package as they already have a very short shelf life, and also often contain both vegetables and meat. As a result the packaging of these products is always a compromise: oxygen-free for the meat or oxygen permeable for the vegetables.
Typical issues we study involve the way packaging can help extend the quality or shelf life of (fresh) products. This requirement may be imposed by logistics (a short time in which products can be transported to the consumer) or consumers (purchased products may end up in the bin after only a few days). It can also be a requirement from the producer as a product with a higher quality expands their market.
Our test facilities for fresh products are used to test the packaging and materials for a variety of fresh products. The test area includes 60 configurable storage spaces where we simulate the packaging, as well as the latest analysis equipment to determine gas and moisture transmissions