Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


A flexible sustainable active and intelligent packaging technology platform enabling enhanced shelf life, quality and safety of fresh food produce (Food processing)

Project acronym: ISA-Pack

Title of project: A flexible sustainable active and intelligent packaging technology platform enabling enhanced shelf life, quality and safety of fresh food produce

Research area: Food Processing

Contract No: 289521

EU contribution: €2 999 946

Start date: January 2012

Duration: 36 months

Status: on-going

The global packaging market is estimated to be worth over €400 billion, with an annual growth rate exceeding 4%. Of this total market, packaging for food and beverages represents more than 70%, worth around €280 billion. Food packaging has several functions, which include food containment, protection from mechanical damage or contamination, consumer communications such as on nutrition, and marketing purposes. However, packaging is also playing an increasingly important role in food preservation and treatments which improve the shelf life, quality and/or safety of the food it holds. The ISA-Pack project is investigating innovative ways to enhance the benefits that food packaging can offer to industry and consumers.

Packaging systems incorporating sustainability, active food preservation or intelligent functionality have been demonstrated in recent years. However, a number of critical limitations are preventing their widespread take-up by the food and packaging sectors. To overcome these limitations, the ISA-Pack project is developing a flexible, sustainable, active and intelligent technology packaging platform for perishable fresh food produce. This platform targets extended shelf-life, better quality, enhanced safety and reduced food and packaging waste.

Specifically, the ISA-Pack partners aim to develop novel PHB-copolymer stretch wrap films suitable for packaging most food produce for which conventional PVC stretch films are used, such as meats, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables and cheese. In addition, the project is developing new gas barrier sheets and films from a novel HB copolymer, suitable for modified atmosphere packaging "MAP' that extends shelf life. MAP is widely used throughout the food industry for the packaging of many food types, including ready cooked meals and pre-cooked foods, as well as fresh meats, poultry and fish.

To achieve its aim, the project will bring together three components: the environmental benefits of biopolymer materials; the preservative and protective properties of active packaging that improve food shelf life, quality and safety; and the information functionality of intelligent packaging that boosts food quality and safety. By combining all three components within one system, ISA-Pack's research will achieve synergistic performance enhancements and added value benefits.

The outcomes of ISA-Pack will include: better quality and extended shelf life of perishable food (which will improve profitability and reduce waste for manufacturers and retailers); more information and greater assurance of food safety and quality for consumers; and improved sustainability, less waste and lower environmental impacts throughout the food and packaging value chain for society as a whole.

The ISA-Pack platform will offer great benefits for a wide range of fresh perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, dairy, bakery, and ready meals. In particular, it will benefit those food groups that risk contamination from harmful pathogenic bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. In addition, through extended shelf life, ISA-Pack aims to reduce retailer supply chain wastage of fresh food produce by 75%.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Ian Hay,

Organisation: The UK Materials Technology Research Institute (UK-MatRI),