A problem of delivered food that becomes cold or soggy during transportation is well known to any consumer who ever ordered a takeaway. It negatively affects not only buyers who receive lower-quality products but also restaurateurs and other companies that prepare those meals, as they reputation diminishes and, as a result, they lose some clients. A solution to the problem has been thermal bags, most commonly used in pizza deliveries. Although they prevent food from getting cold (for a limited time), enclosed air circulating in a warm container creates moisture that makes meals soggy.
A team of scientists from the North West Poland specialised in packaging materials has found and is offering an even better solution to the problem - a technology of packaging material with foam that creates thermal insulation, absorbs excess moisture and bonds the walls of the package. The offered material consists of three layers:
1. the inner layer made from paper of a high permeability. It is thinner than the outer layer and its role is to separate food from foam.
2. the middle layer of foamed starch that absorbs excess moisture.
3. the outer layer made of cardboard that gives mechanical rigidity and strength to the whole package.
What distinguishes the material is its ability to soak up moisture. Moreover, compared with standard cardboard (corrugated board) packaging, its production requires a smaller amount of cellulosic material and the final product has potentially better insulation properties. As a result, the offered technology is more financially and environmentally beneficial (smaller use of scarce raw materials) and provides a combination of performance insulation and moisture management which may improve quality and taste of a takeaway food. In addition, foaming process (one of the stages in the production process) can be postponed and made just before packaging the food. This will reduce transportation costs and has the potential to differentiate the final product in a highly competitive market. Finally, the material allows for a number of interesting modifications, such as adding antimicrobial substances. Performed global market analysis has shown that the offered material is competitive and attractive due to the increased demand for takeaway food, as well as increasing awareness of health, environment, and food safety.
The scientist would like to further develop the invention and adapt it for industrial implementation. To those ends, they are looking for packaging companies that would like to improve their products and are interested in cooperation under the technical cooperation agreement. A partner will be responsible for providing means necessary to adjust the technology for mass production of new packagings and is also expected to assist in evaluating effectiveness of the material for various food products. In turn, the scientist will be responsible for all the testing and adjustments. In their estimation the works will take from 1 to 2 years (first 6 months for pre-industrial tests, next 6-12 months is for adjusting the technology to the needs of industrial machinery of a potential partner and last 6 months are for sending a test batch to a final recipient) and will cost approximately 50-100 000 EUR.