Innovation

Less oxygen, more freshness

When incorporated directly into packaging, the VISPARENT® additive captures oxygen molecules inside the package so that the packaged food stays fresh longer. A team from Strategy & New Growth Business (part of Resource Efficiency) was nominated for the 2019 Evonik Innovation Award for their work on developing the technology.

Roughly one third of all of the food produced in the world is never consumed, but is instead either lost or wasted somewhere on the journey from field to fork. The right packaging can go a long way toward overcoming that problem.

Many foods, such as meat, sausage, nuts, and beverages, are sensitive to oxygen: for example, when exposed to oxygen over time vitamins can lose their healthful properties and nuts can go rancid. Bacteria and molds often need oxygen to grow.

Many foods today are already packaged in a protective atmosphere to keep the oxygen content low. In some cases, oxygen absorbers are already used as a way of lowering the concentration of the molecule even further. Up to now, however, success of these methods has been limited: some, for example, do not work with very dry products, while others involve placing the absorber in separate little packets (sachets) inside the actual food package itself. Another problem is that some of the absorbers turn an unsightly yellow over time.

VISPARENT® is an alternative developed by a team from Strategy & New Growth Business within Resource Efficiency. This polymer-based oxygen absorber is incorporated directly into the packaging, where it remains transparent after it binds oxygen. Another advantage: the reaction between VISPARENT® and oxygen proceeds automatically—unlike other oxygen absorbers, there is no need for an additional activator, such as moisture or UV energy Finally, VISPARENT® works exceptionally well in wet, dry and even freezer conditions.

Over the past three years, the additive has made it all the way up to approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Initial discussions with potential customers and brand owners have been positive, and the first sales of VISPARENT® are already starting to happen.