Packaging Happenings: Biodegradable plastic bag replacement, Japan's food label law transition, canned plant-based meat and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Biodegradable plastic bag replacement, Japan's food label law transition, canned plant-based meat and more feature in this edition of Packaging Happenings. ©Getty Images
Biodegradable plastic bag replacement, Japan's food label law transition, canned plant-based meat and more feature in this edition of Packaging Happenings. ©Getty Images

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Biodegradable plastic bag replacement, Japan's food label law transition, canned plant-based meat and more feature in this edition of Packaging Happenings.

Resolve to dissolve: Hong Kong’s Invisible Company aims to replace supermarket flat top plastic bags with water-soluble solution

A Hong Kong start-up is seeking to create eco-friendly alternative to the ‘flat top’ plastic bags used in supermarkets for fresh products and baked goods, claiming they are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste.

Currently, Hong Kong has a plastic levy scheme for shopping bags, but flat top plastic bags are excluded.

Invisible Company has previously created a water-soluble, plastic-free and biodegradable solution that is used across a range of sectors, including packaged and dried food brands, but it is now striving to make a version that is suitable for fresh products.

It is working with researchers in Hong Kong, and entering discussions with supermarkets, to ensure they are food-grade compliant, as well as being biodegradable and compostable. 

Branded as INVISIBLEBAG, the bags are made from a combination of Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA), starch, glycerin and water. PVA is a water-soluble and biodegradable synthetic polymer used in medicine capsules and laundry detergent pods.

‘Systematic switch’: Japan urges food manufacturers to finalise raw material origins labelling transition

Japan has urged all local food and beverage brands to ensure that processes are in place to transition to new origin of raw material rules, in order to keep operations running smoothly and avoid ‘disturbances’.

Japan first announced a revision to its Food Labelling Law in September 2017 to include the geographical origins of the main ingredient used to make a food or beverage item on the product’s labels. Due to the massive nationwide undertaking for the implementation of these new labelling standards, the government allowed food firms a considerably long grace period to transition, until March 31 2022.

As the due date for compulsory enforcement is fast approaching, both the local Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) are urging local food firms who have set to complete the transition, or at least have the processes in place to complete the transition by March 31 next year, to pick up the pace or face severe penalties if they prevent the switch from going smoothly.

“All food and beverage companies need to remember that although the transition period is until March 31 2022, there are [logistical] components to this switch such as the ordering [and printing] of packaging materials and labels in accordance with the new labelling standards,”​ MAFF stated via a formal statement.

Don’t kick the can: Why Ayam Brand believes ambient products are the next big thing in plant-based meat

Canned food specialist Ayam Brand believes that plant-based meats in canned, ambient format are could be the next big thing to meet consumer demands for greater convenience and affordability.

Ayam Brand is a household brand in Asia, best known for its canned fish products from sardines to tuna. That said, according to the firm’s Managing Director in Singapore Roy Teo, internal consumer research undertaken by the firm found a growing demand for options that would fit into a flexitarian diet and offer more sustainable options, leading the firm to create a plant-based meat range.

“The company is over a hundred years old, and though we are best known for our canned fish products, we in fact do also have expertise in a variety of plant-based albeit more traditional items such as baked beans and other canned vegetables,”​ Teo told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Noodle challenge: Mr Lee’s Noodles overcomes packaging and pricing concerns for Asian expansion

Healthier noodle brand Mr Lee’s Noodles has big plans for the Asian market, but has had to redefine its packaging to take climate and humidity concerns into consideration, as well as explore a new pricing strategy to meet the needs of markets in the region.

Mr Lee’s Noodles originated in the United Kingdom, with an APAC base currently located in Australia. The brand already has a healthy presence in Australia and also exports to New Zealand and Hong Kong.

According to Mr Lee’s Noodles managing company Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Director Australasia Greg Longhurst, the brand is looking at Asia as a major target market, but is first working to overcome challenges it has found in terms of packaging and pricing.

“We have found a need to redefine our packaging to suit exports, particularly to Asia due to the high humidity,”​ Longhurst told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Soup in a bottle: Re:Nourish seeks to break into UAE’s ‘fastest-growing FMCG category’

Fresh soup brand Re:Nourish has set its sights to conquering the ‘fastest-growing’ soup category in the Middle East, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), by playing on the healthy and ‘grab and go’ credentials of its bottled products.

Re:Nourish’s soups are world-first in their product format, bring the first fresh soup anywhere to be sold in a microwaveable bottle.

The first concern when it comes to consuming products from directly microwaved packaging is chemical leaching and contamination of the food, but the firm’s Founder and CEO Nicci Clark assured us that the team has already worked around this concern.

“That’s a common concern, but we spent nine months designing the bottle specifically to work around this issue – what we’ve essentially done is to make the bottle BPA-free and use PP (polypropylene) as opposed to PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) as the material,”​ Clark told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

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