Active Packaging! | Bestack | Long live fruit

About us

Bestack is the national consortium of leading Italian companies that produce corrugated cardboard packaging for fruit and vegetables - International Paper, Smurfit Kappa, Ghelfi Ondulati, DS Smith, Ondulor, Mauro Benedetti, Sandra, Trevikart and Ondulati Maranello - and account for around 95% of Italian production.

We are involved in:

  • Research to constantly innovate fruit and vegetable sector
  • Certification of packaging performance
  • Promotion of our sector throughout the supply chain

What is it

Active packaging!
in Bestack corrugated cardboard, patented in November 2015, is the product of a partnership between Bestack and the research group led by Professor Rosalba Lanciotti, which includes Professor Francesca Patrignani and Doctor Lorenzo Siroli, from Bologna University's Department of Food and Agriculture Science and Technology in Cesena, launched five years ago to improve corrugated cardboard packaging for fruit and vegetables. The goal was to innovate on the microbiological aspects of packaging to benefit the product stored inside it.
We worked on the analysis of the health and safety levels of the packaging and the contamination that transfers from the packaging to the products stored inside it. We then controlled microbial load proliferation with the purpose of increasing product shelf life, reducing waste and increasing the probability of consumption with consequent financial savings and improving the quality of the products sold.
Active packaging uses naturally occurring essential oils, already used by the food industry in accordance with the applicable legislation to regulate and naturally slow down ripening processes.

What science says

Rosalba Lanciotti

Full Professor of Food Microbiology
PhD in Food Biotechnology
Coordinator of the Master Degree in Food Science and Technology
Deputy head of the Department of Food and Agriculture Science and Technology
ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - University of Bologna

I am particularly proud of ACTIVE, the result of many years of research and of a fruitful synergy with Bestack, because we are dealing with packaging designed to improve the quality, shelf life and safety of fruit and vegetables and, consequently, able to better satisfy/protect the consumer, even in the globalised marketplace.

Globalisation has undoubtedly increased opportunities, both for the fruit and vegetable sector and for the consumer, but it has posed some very serious new issues, as we have tragically seen during this health emergency, linked to the free movement of emerging pathogens, as well as of people and goods. The presence of natural antimicrobials that are also effective against pathogenic microorganisms may be a sustainable packaging option able to reduce the environmental permanence of many food-borne toxins and the contamination of the packaged product.

The inhibition effect on microorganisms makes ACTIVE an environmentally friendly packaging that respects the environment and its scarce resources because it is able to contribute significantly to the reduction of food loss and environmental impact.

Awards won



First prize - Business Category
""NON SPRECARE"" AWARD

November 2019



First Prize
CALL FOR INNOVATIONS by COMIECO FACTORY

March 2019



First Prize - Business Category
""VIVERE A SPRECO ZERO"" AWARD of Last Minute Market

November 2018

Success story

Go back over the various phases of the project’s study and field tests carried out to develop a safe and effective packaging to improve the quality of the fruit and vegetable products stored inside it.
The results of the first part of the research have highlighted:
  • Significantly less contamination for cardboard packaging for all microbial groups sought.
  • The presence of a microbial population was found to consist primarily of microorganisms that while not constituting a health hazard to the consumer are capable of altering the product.
  • Some RPC are dirtier already visually and have, in any case, highlighted frequent contamination by faecal contamination indicator microorganisms.

Total mesophilic load of packaging

Total mesophilic load of packaging

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The results have highlighted:
  • Greater contamination of reusable plastic packaging with folding down sides compared to Bestack certified cardboard (also for issues related to storage conditions).
  • The challenge tests carried out by inoculating the packaging with a non-pathogenic strain of E.coli have highlighted that the probability of transferring the microorganism to the fruit is higher in the case of reusable plastic with folding down sides than in Bestack certified cardboard.
  • The probability of transfer is affected not only by the packaging material but also by temperature, marketing time and number of lesions.
Raffronto carica batterica per tipologia di imballaggio

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Pseudomonas spp. load (log cfu/g fruit) detected

Carico di Pseudomonas rilevato

S. cerevisiae load (log cfu/g fruit) detected

Carico di S. Cerevisiae rilevato

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Science begins to measure the benefits on products in the first real cases. To do so we inoculated the same microbial loads on identical batches of product and subsequently placed them in different packaging. Half in active packaging and the other half in traditional packaging. A lot of data was collected. The visual effects are set out below.

Prodotto: mele - risultato della sperimentazione

  • Sampled product: Apples without superficial micro lesions
  • Storage: 12 days
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

  • Sampled product: Apples + M.O. without superficial micro lesions
  • Storage: 9 days
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

Product: pears - result of the experimentation

  • Sampled product: Pears + M.O. with superficial micro lesions
  • Storage: 9 days
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

  • Sampled product: Pears + M.O. without superficial micro lesions
  • Storage: 9 days
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

Product: peaches - result of the experimentation

  • Sampled product: Peaches + M.O.
  • Storage: 3 days
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

Product: strawberries - result of the experimentation

  • Sampled product: Strawberries + Mould + Bioactive Compounds
  • Storage: 1 day
  • Temperature: ambient

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

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Products considered:

  • Strawberries
  • Apricots
  • Nectarines

Test period:

  • May - July 2016
  • 6 sales outlets involved with a fruit and vegetable department
  • average size of 200 m²

Sampling scheme:

  • Weekly sampling of the raw material in stock N. 2
  • Weekly sampling for every sales outlet N. 2
  • Sample analysis N. 4
  • Total weekly samples for the 4 sales outlets N. 16
  • Number of repetitions by sample N. 4
  • Microbial groups considered N. 6
  • Total weekly analysis by product N. 384
  • Weekly analysis by product N. 4
  • Total analysis by product N. 1.536
  • Number of analysed products N. 3
  • Total analysis N. 4.608

Analysis scheme:

  • Evaluation of the microbiological quality of the raw material.
  • Analysis on the presence of the key pathogens and degradative agents in different periods.
  • Quantification of the increase in Shelf Life.
  • Qualitative evaluation through Consumer Panel Test.
  • Quantification of waste.

Product: strawberries - result of the experimentation

  • Period: may 2016
  • Sampled product: 35 quintals
  • Storage: sales outlet simulation
Waste differential between Active! And Traditional packaging Min Max
After 3 days of packaging

-8%

-13%

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

Product: apricots - result of the experimentation

  • Period: june 2016
  • Sampled product: 45 quintals
  • Storage: sales outlet simulation
Waste differential between Active! And Traditional packaging Min Max
After 4 days of packaging

-13%

-18%

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

Product: nectarines - result of the experimentation

  • Period: july 2016
  • Sampled product: 50 quintals
  • Storage: sales outlet simulation
Waste differential between Active! And Traditional packaging Min Max
After 6 days of packaging

-20%

-25%

Traditional packaging

Active Packaging!

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In 2017, we move from the experimentation phase to large-scale testing, using active packaging during the marketing campaigns of different products (strawberries, apricots, nectarines, and grapes). In this case, the results confirm what had emerged in previous years despite a particularly dry season that lowered the percentage of non-compliant product.

Products considered:

  • Strawberries
  • Apricots
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes

Test period:

  • March / April
  • June / July
  • July / August
  • October / November

Sampling scheme:

  • For ever delivery half active and half traditional packaging
  • Sampling of 2 packages by type on arrival at platform
  • Analysed product 40 tons
  • Total analysis N. 670

Analysis scheme:

  • Evaluation of the visual quality of the product
  • Evaluation of rottenness
  • Evaluation of mould
  • Waste quantification

Quantification of waste reduction and greater opportunities for consumption

Strawberries 8% – 13%

Apricots 13% – 18%

Nectarines 20% – 25%

Grapes 7% – 10%

Consumer test - Strawberries

Question Percentage waste Active! /
Traditional Packaging
Did you eat the product after the fourth day? +19 %
Did you throw away part of the purchased product? -3 %
Did the product keep better
compared to the one you usually purchase?
+13 %

Estimate of economic benefits

Products / sector Increase in shelf life in days Product not thrown out
in volume (tonns)
Sales outlet test Strawberries 1 / 1.2 1 - 1.6
Apricots 1.1 / 1.4 2.8 - 3.9
Nectarines 1.2 / 1.6 4.5 - 5.6
F&V Italia 1 / 1.5 650,000 / 840,000

Estimated consumer waste Active v Traditional Packaging - the analysis of the University of Bologna

Producer partner Product % Average waste in traditional packaging (1) Waste differential on traditional packaging (2) Greater storage time in days (2)
Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Raspberries 60 % -3 % -10% +0,5% +1 %
Strawberries 35 % -10 % -15% +1% +1,5%
Cherries 30 % -6% -11% +1% +1,5%
Apricots 25 % -8% -12% +1,5% +2%
Peaches 32 % -9% -13% +2% +2,5%
Nectarines 28 % -5% -8% +2% +2,5%
Grapes 8 % -2% -5% +0,5% +1%
(1) Average data at ambient T°: Raspberries, Strawberries, Cherries T3, Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines T4, Grapes T5
(2) Calculated at T (n° days) of sales outlet life requested by the retailers

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An innovation is useful if it is perceived and if this perception directs consumption behaviour. Therefore, after measuring the benefits, first in terms of the size of microbial population between product in active packaging and product in traditional packaging, having quantified and compared the proliferation time of the mould in both cases, it is necessary to find out if the consumer notices it and which solution they prefer when consuming the product. Therefore, we reconstruct a fruit and vegetable department to offer two products in identical condition that differ only in the package used. We ask consumers to choose and to tell us which they prefer both visually and in terms of taste.

Comparison of product in active v traditional packaging - purchase simulation in a reconstructed fruit and vegetable department.

How is the research conducted

  1. Comparative Blind Panel test at consumption
  2. At simulation of reconstructed fruit and vegetable department
  3. Differentials at third day of display in sales outlet
  4. On identical double products displayed, one in active packaging and one in traditional packaging

Purchasing preference

Of the product in the active packaging compared to the traditional packaging, how much more is it worth?

Tasting preference

Of the product in the active packaging compared to the traditional packaging, how much more is it worth?

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Comparative analysis of product in active packaging v product in traditional packaging carried out in real sales outlets. Research is carried out by the Department of Food and Agriculture Science and Technology (DISTAL) Alma Mater Studiorum - University di Bologna

Retail Sampling Method AGROTER

AgroTer

In partnership with:

COOP - Fresh products Department

Coop

Apofruit - Quality Office

Apofruit

Fragole

Analysis in numbers

L'analisi in numeri

The results

Comparison of the acceptable product quality level.

Traditional packaging

At purchase

At domestic analysis

Active Packaging!

At purchase

At domestic analysis

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ADVANTAGES OF PRODUCT AND BENEFITS FOR THE CONSUMER

The use of Active Packaging! gives important and concrete benefits, including:

About us

Contact us

To request complete studies in addition to other research we have conducted use the following form.

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