In response to growing consumer concerns about the environmental impact of food packaging, manufacturers are continuously searching for better ways to package foods safely and effectively. Recently, Swedish design company Tomorrow Machine released some innovative food packaging prototypes that may solve the problem in the future.
Consumer Trends Inspire New Packaging Ideals
In the past, the greatest concern within the food packaging industry was to create packaging solutions that appealed to consumers and kept food fresh for as long as possible. As consumers have learned more about the environmental and potential health-related dangers of certain types of food packaging, however, the industry has been forced to focus on two new issues when developing packaging solutions: safety and sustainability.
Today, the ultimate goal of many food packaging manufacturers is to create a product that is safe for the environment, doesn't pose any serious health concerns for consumers and maximizes the shelf life of the food it contains.
Tomorrow Machine's Designs
A quick flip through Tommorrow Machine’s Facebook page shows that the brand has built itself around innovative and eco-friendly packaging design.
But where older designs are more focused on artistry, the debut of the studio’s “This Too Shall Pass” series shows that Tomorrow Machine is just as dedicated to consumers concerns. And the differences between these new designs and current standardized food packaging methods are immediately clear.
All three self-contained prototypes are made from natural substances that are designed with a shelf-life that mirrors the life of the foods that they hold.
The first design, an innovative food packaging solution for hold dry goods, was fashioned from beeswax that was molded into a conical vessel. To open this package and access the contents, consumers must simply peel off the outer layer of wax.
The second piece, a small gelatin packet for juices, creams and other liquids, was made from a combination of water and agar-agar, which was then molded into the desired shape.
The final prototype, arguable the most impressive, is a caramelized sugar “snow globe” that has been coated with wax. The entire package is water-soluble and releases its contents with only a crack from the consumer.
Obstacles to Innovation
Though ingenious, new packaging methods like those developed by Tomorrow Machine have a long way to go before they see widespread adoption within the food packaging industry.
There are a number of different obstacles that must first be overcome.
Because these prototypes are so different from current packaging, for example, current equipment and production procedures will undoubtedly need to be revised—a step that will require manufacturers to make a significant investment before they can begin using innovative packaging. Likewise, the short life of comestible packaging means that production will also be considerably more expensive—at least in the beginning—which will raise the price of products for consumers and/or lower profits for manufacturers.
Nonetheless, with so many consumers calling for safe, sustainable food packaging, designers won't give up on the idea of creating better solutions.
Innovation Is an Ongoing Effort
Though more utilitarian in appearance, the latest Tomorrow Machine designs are still exactly that—design prototypes that are nowhere near market-ready. But the concept still has the potential to revolutionize the food manufacturing industry as we know it. The increasing environmental awareness of the modern consumer is already leading the industry to develop safer, more environmentally-friendly methods of food packaging.
As time goes on, it is likely that more companies will experiment with similar prototypes. Eventually, a practical design that is safe for consumers and the environment, effective and affordable will be developed. And once a cost effective way to adapt the model to large scale production is developed, it’s likely that we would see the wholesale adoption of consumable or compostable packaging.
Thus, for food manufacturers, staying up-to-date on the latest innovative food packaging designs is essential for long-term success.