Praneeth Tripurari, Marketing Director, Tetra Pak South Asia
In recent years, there has been a growing paradoxical trend – relying on the convenience and safety offered by packaged foods, while also often thinking of them as unhealthy options. The latter is largely due to misconceptions around their nutritional value and quality. However, in a world grappling with complex challenges like food wastage, environmental sustainability, and health-conscious consumption, we have the imperative to find the perfect balance between them all; foods that can not only be nutritious, safe and high in quality but also help reduce waste.
Packaging and processing technology has evolved significantly over the years, and advanced methods deployed by Tetra Pak and other industry players today make it possible to retain the nutritional integrity and flavour of food while extending their shelf life – all without the help of preservatives.
Furthermore, transparent labelling regulations enable consumers to make informed choices about dietary preferences, assessing levels of nutrients. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been instrumental in this regard, formulating guidelines and standards in packaging, processing, and labelling that ensure food safety and quality in the country.
Packaging for Sustainability: Reducing Food Wastage
One of the most compelling arguments in favour of packaged food lies in its potential to reduce food wastage significantly. As per the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), nearly a third (~2.5 billion tonnes) of all food produced globally is lost or wasted each year. Proper packaging, however, significantly extends the shelf-life of perishables, reducing chances of premature spoilage. Tetra Pak, for instance, has developed advanced aseptic cartons to keep food fresher for longer without preservatives. This also allows food to be transported across large distances without a cold chain.
The FSSAI has been raising awareness among consumers about the importance of safe food and the need to be conscious about the food that one consumes. Empowering consumers with knowledge is a cornerstone of food safety. For example, the many myths that surround packaged or shelf stable foods must be busted. FSSAI can help educate consumers, food businesses, and regulators about best practices in food safety, and the technology available to ensure the same. Collaborative efforts with educational institutions and community organisations can disseminate information effectively, fostering a culture of vigilance and responsibility towards food safety.
Embracing Circular Economy: The Packaging Solution
Circular economy involves reusing and recycling materials to minimise waste and environmental impact. Tetra Pak actively invests in post-consumer recycled materials and other sustainable resources in its packaging production. The package itself is made primarily from renewable, responsibly sourced materials.
By incentivising the use of such materials and setting standards for recycled content and sustainable packaging, the FSSAI can lead the way in minimising the carbon footprint of the food sector. This not only aligns with global sustainability goals but will also foster the growth of a robust recycling industry within the country.
The food and beverage industry is evolving rapidly, driven by changing consumer preferences and sustainability concerns. By incentivising and partnering with the industry, the FSSAI should continue to encourage innovations that promote sustainable development.