The Vivos Edible Delivery System uses food-grade components to produce clear pouches which then dissolve in hot or cold liquids. Since the system is patent pending, US-based MonoSol would not disclose the composition, but described it as having "no smell or taste when consumed".
"It's not something new," said senior technical marketing manager Sumeet Kumar. "The components have been there for years, used for instance in food-grade coatings for pharmaceuticals."
He said it was not a starch-based material and pointed out that starch films can be less robust than other materials. It is Kosher and Halal-certified, he added, and can be supplied in genetically modified-free versions.
MonoSol lists the overall benefits as portion control, convenience, and the elimination of packaging waste.
"We've been talking to some major food processors," he said. "Rather than in retail, the first commercial launch may turn out to be in back-kitchen types of application." The film can be used for everything from porridge portions to instant coffee and ingredients for in-store bakeries. Fast food outlets which use casual or relatively poorly trained staff might see particular benefits in using the system, said MonoSol.
Other possibilities for consumer products include water-soluble vitamin and sports supplements, powdered gravy mixes, soups and hot chocolate.
In terms of overall strength and runnability on existing packaging and converting machinery, MonoSol likens the film to the type of low or high-density polyethylene film that it might be expected to replace. It also said the film offers good oxygen barrier properties.
In terms of moisture sensitivity, the company draws a parallel with soluble film-wrapped dishwasher tablets. "We would require a moisture barrier of some sort," said Kumar. "But our tests show that the film will not dissolve, even in relative humidity of up to 80%. It may lose some of its properties over time, but you need liquid water for it to dissolve."
Kumar admitted there might be resistance to the idea of consuming polymers, but pointed out that in fact we do it all the time.
Around two years ago, MonoSol launched its first-generation F-series film. But it was not as robust as the latest product.