High cost of nanotechnology means manufacturers miss out

By Sarah Britton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food packaging Nanotechnology

The food industry is failing to take full advantage of nanotechnology because it is too expensive, according to a recent review.The review was...

The food industry is failing to take full advantage of nanotechnology because it is too expensive, according to a recent review.

The review was conducted by Campden & Chorleywood Research Association and AZ-Tech Consulting Services. “Nanotechnology, defined as the use of material at the nano-scale, such is the case of nano-coatings, has been used by packaging scientists for many decades,” said the report, A great small change. Nano-additives in food packaging​. “But, the manipulation and understanding of engineered materials at the nano-scale is more recent and offers much for potential developments in food packaging.”

Silver nano-particles, or silver cations bonded to a nano-composite, could provide anti-microbial properties, claimed the report. It noted that silver had been incorporated into socks and underwear that stay fresh longer, and that there was an opportunity for it to be used in food packaging. “Sharper Image and BlueMoonGoods.com in the USA, Quan Zhou Hu Zeng Nano Technology in China, and A-DO Global in South Korea, sell such products,” noted the study. “These companies claim that the particles provide anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties that keep food safer, fresher, healthier, and tastier.”

Nano-particles of zinc oxide also showed potential. “Studies at Leeds University have indicated that these could be used in packaging as an anti-microbial as the anti-bacterial activity on E. coli​ was found to increase with particle concentration,” stated the report.

Meanwhile, evidence showed that silicon oxide nano-particles had been added to the inside of containers to increase their barrier properties, said the paper. “For example, SIG Cormoplast’s Plasma Impulse Coating Vapour Deposition system applies a silicon oxide coating of less than 100 nanometres inside PET [polyethylene terephthalate] bottles. According to the company, it raises the shelf-life for 12oz carbonated soft-drink bottles almost three-fold to more than 25 weeks.”

But despite the many opportunities for nano-particles in food packaging, the report stated that cost was the main barrier to use. “With the exception of some materials such as nano-clays, the costs of manufacturing and using such nano-particles is too great compared to the advantages achieved in the final commercial pack,” claimed the study. “Consequently, most packaging incorporating nano-particles is currently receiving attention at the research stage rather than in commercial applications.”

Consumer perception was also an issue, claimed the report. “Several studies in the UK have indicated that consumers have concerns over the applications of new technologies, including nanotechnology. This has been likened to the reluctance of European consumers to accept GM [genetic modification] technologies.”

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast