Nanotechnology applications: Nanopackaging

Nanopackaging market worth billions Global sales of nanotechnology-related products approached 739 million € last year, and the food packaging industry could be worth as much as 22 billion €, according to a new study that provides an insight into future market trends. Helmut Kaiser conducted the study and considers that nanotechnology will change 25% of the food packaging market, currently worth 74 billion €, in the decade to come. The market will be driven by new applications designed to extend shelf life, to incorporate antibacterial functions and to make packaging interactive. Three years ago, less than 40 nanopackaging products were on the market, whereas over 400 are now available. Sales have risen from 150 million € in 2002 to 635 million € in 2004, with total demand at 724 million € in 2006. Among the virtues of nanopackaging: thanks to nanoparticles, packaging and bottles can be made lighter and stronger, with better thermal performance and less gas absorption, ensuring longer shelf lives and reduced transportation costs; nanostructured films can be used to prevent micro-organisms from entering food; nanosensors can be embedded in packaging to enable consumers to monitor the condition of the food; the gas and water vapour permeability of plastics can be engineered to preserve foods including fruit and vegetables and also beverages and wine.