Ahead of this Global Food Contact we spoke to Michaela Hofbauer, Group Leader of Adhesive Technology at Eastman, to get her insights on the biggest challenges currently faced by the food contact materials industry, and a closer look at the innovative work being done at Eastman to support the needs of the entire food packaging value chain.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges the global food packaging industry currently faces? What are some of the biggest opportunities?
A: The global food packaging industry is dealing with conflicting consumer-driven pressures. On one hand, consumers want safe and shelf-stable food and are demanding packaging materials that provide these functionalities, as well as convenience of purchase and use. On the other hand, consumers are more and more concerned with recyclability and are demanding sustainable solutions. Often, these requirements are hard to satisfy simultaneously.
However, each challenge represents an opportunity. Consumer concern about sustainability, recycling, and plastic waste in our oceans is a strong driver for material and design innovations. It allows manufacturers to add an additional value to their products that reaches beyond food safety and packaging functionality and is more visible to the end customer.
Q: What does Eastman hope to achieve over the next five years with regard to tackling problems faced by the packaged food industry?
A: Eastman is working on multiple fronts to support the food packaging industry. This includes circular economy solutions, degradable films, enablers for mono-material-based packaging solutions, recyclability enhancers for post-consumer plastic streams, and more. In my presentation, I’ll focus on our progress in food safety and highlight how we try to help the packaging value chain through material innovation and safety assessment. We are collaborating across the value chain to provide safer, cleaner solutions for food brands and consumers that meet current and future regulatory requirements.