Print me a Pretzel, Pronto

3D printing has changed the world as we knew it and is said to spark the third industrial revolution. When a 3D printer for home use is available for less than $1000 it won’t take long before it becomes mainstream. Which is both fun and inspiring.

But what is more interesting than fun, at least for the moment, is 3D printing of food. Yes you can seriously print food, layer on layer. Not for home use yet though. The need originates from the question, “How to feed an astronaut on his way to Pluto?” Apparently there is now printable food stuff available with a best before date somewhere around 2044 or just after you are safely back again from outer space.

3DfoodAt present the main reason for printing food is the Star Trekiness and the coolness factor. But there are a few things speaking for this technology of printing food products. I am not saying home-printing is around the corner but the technology does enable us to use ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or even insects. With a growing global population to feed this could be one of the answers we are looking for.

It is also a way to truly personalise food. If you are sensitive to certain ingredients you can design and make your own food with your own formula. Great for people with allergies and similar.

The convenience factor, that offers food made at exactly the right moment in time. You set the machine for dinner and activate the thing with an app as you leave work and upon arrival you have a freshly printed steak. All you have to do now is to ask your local grocer to fax you a bottle of wine.

Printing your own food will give you and your favourite restaurant an enormous freedom to design both shape and content. Apart from the technical challenges there are a few cultural as well. Are we ready for printed provisions? You could probably survive on a daily pill of concentrated nutrition but we don’t want to do that. This is different but still far away from the main stream.

So, what has this got to do with packaging? Well, nothing much but it is still intriguing.

Slip sliding away

Liquiglide to the right
Liquiglide to the right

Is this the best idea since sliced bread? It is definitely a good one, no doubt.  It’s LiquiGlide “that makes anything – syrup, ketchup, paint – slide right out of the bottle so you don’t waste a drop.” By making the inner walls of a container slippery you can easily empty the entire content. This will save you from wasting unnecessarily lots of product, in many cases a stunning 10-20% is chucked and wasted with the “empty”.

This could be one of the solutions needed for stemming the flood of food wasted for no sensible reasons. I don’t think I need to go into the stats around the problem, it’s simply huge. What might be a new piece of information however is that an estimated 20-25% off food waste is to refer to packaging. That is packaging that is not good enough for its purpose. Under performing packaging that is not sturdy enough, not tight enough, not protective enough, etc.

A lot can be done to this acute problem from the packaging side. We need better materials, better solutions, better features and more resources put into innovation. Above all we need better understanding of how to use the available materials, solutions and features.

This invention, LiquiGlide, will not solve the food waste problem but it is definitely a good step on that way.

Close the door!

This annoying little thing has been developed to save energy but could double as saving food.

We have a huge and global food waste problem with many dimensions. Developed markets, undeveloped markets, production, distribution, consumption, etc. One of the problem areas is consumers throwing out food they once brought home. Some of these decisions to reject are simply based on the best before mark while others based on using their senses.

My point is that with this great little device you will manage your fridge better and keep the door shut and therefore in the end save food from degrading and being unnecessary wasted. Well this won’t save the world but every little helps. Food waste is a big and disturbing problem in a world where famine is an ever present and also growing problem.

A waste rate of 33% is hardly acceptable in any industry

The United Nations said today in a report that about 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year, which amounts to roughly one third of all the food produced for human consumption.

This is a totally unacceptable situation that hits the poor and vulnerable the hardest.

According to the report, food losses occur as a result of inefficiencies in food production and processing operations that diminish supplies. This is obviously a complex situation but the situation can be dramatically improved by using appropriate packaging solutions. Ruben Rausing said at his time the “Packaging should save more than it costs”. This is a very good example where packaging can make that difference.

Food waste, by contrast, is when retailers and consumers throw edible food in the trash. Consumers in rich nations waste a combined 222 million tons a year, according to the report. That’s almost as much as all the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa.