UK food sector is lagging behind on pack digitalisation

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Digitilisation gives consumers the ability to authenticate products
Digitilisation gives consumers the ability to authenticate products

Related tags: Uk food, European union

While the UK pharmaceuticals sector and US food and drink have seen the benefits of pack digitalisation, UK food and drink has so far dodged both regulatory and supply-chain pressures in this direction, technology provider Kezzler has claimed.

The company quoted figures valuing the global market for smart packaging at $26.7bn by 2024, but little of that appears to have materialised yet – certainly not across the UK food and drink sector.

This is despite food fraud costing the country an estimated £1.17bn annually, according to Kezzler. The supplier sees the capability it gives both consumers and brand-owners to authenticate product as one of the key strengths of its technology.

‘Common misconception’

“There’s a common misconception that for highly competitive industries dealing with mass volumes, the costs and operational logistics of serialisation at item level are prohibitive,”​ said vice president for corporate affairs Paul Laland. But he maintained this was not true of Kezzler’s system.

“Code generation and verification, using a patented encryption algorithm, takes place in milliseconds, avoiding the problems database systems encounter when dealing with large volumes.”

In mid-2015, in an effort to kick-start demand, Kezzler teamed up with packaging converter Amcor to launch MaXQ, a system to ‘pre-serialise’ products with unique smartcodes that could be activated via the cloud. When asked, Kezzler could not clarify whether the system had yet been taken up by any UK brand owners.

‘SmartLabel initiative’

“Digitalisation of the food and drink sector in the US has been driven in part by the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel initiative,”​ said Laland.

Commenting on UK pharmaceuticals, he said: “The EU Falsified Medicines Directive has propelled innovation and adoption on this front.”

Meanwhile, the drive to establish best practice in flexible packaging design, sorting and recycling is gaining pace at European level, with the growing number of stakeholders within circular economy initiative CEFLEX now moving towards a first draft of its design guidelines.

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