New Technologies In Milk Cartons

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The last months various novelties have been published about the beverage carton (TetraPak, SIG, Elopak). Various, like TetraPak and Elopak, introduced new environmental-friendly material. SIG introduced a series of very small cartons to meet the growing trend for smaller packages. About both developments I will write in the near future. But today I like to write about two suppliers of roll-fed material for beverage cartons, outside the three best-known ones already mentioned.
Both, Greatview Aseptic Packaging in China and Gruppo Cordenons in Italy have something special to offer. I end this article with a description of a new ‘Smart Cap’, which detects soured milk.

In my article “Consumer Interactivity With Fresh Produce” I wrote that the future of the global food industry is the seamless integration of all links of the food supply chain from grower and manufacturer right through to the consumers, utilising existing and future mobile infrastructure, new developments in cloud based IT technologies and consumer friendly mobile apps.

I also wrote about the Australian apps developer Authenticateit, which introduced an app for the Chinese market, enabling Australian brands to leverage the power of Chinese social media networks such as WeChat and Weibo to help supply Australian products to the Chinese consumers.

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Besides the implementation of the track-and-trace system for fresh produce, as described in my article, Norco, a 100% Australian, farmer owned dairy cooperative, has also signed on with Authenticateit for its milk products.

But in the Chinese market there is going on more. In answer to China’s revised ‘Food Safety Law’, which now requires manufacturers to establish full supply chain traceability systems, Chinese company Greatview Aseptic Packaging, said to be the world’s second largest supplier of roll-fed aseptic beverage cartons, has developed an individually traceable milk carton printed with unique QR-codes. In other words each Greatview milk carton carries its own separate ID.

Milk traceability the Chinese Way
Greatview’s latest technology represents the packaging industry’s first step towards offering food producers full supply chain control.
In collaboration with Tencent’s WeChat and Chinese retailer RT-Mart, Mengniu’s ‘Selected Meadow’ Traceable+ milk became the first to apply the technology in promoting its milk brand.
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Consumers who use their smartphones to scan ‘Selected Meadow’ products will be able to trace item-level information about the milk contained in the carton.
China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd’s partnership with Greatview, WeChat and RT-Mart has been inspired by China’s ‘Internet Plus’ strategy, which aims to integrate the internet with traditional industries. For consumers it means a more comprehensive user experience, while for the industry it represents an opportunity to a functional big data platform.

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Papermilk
It is described as incredibly tactile with a smooth velvety feel and can be printed using offset as well as by thermography, hot printing (with or without foil), dry relief printing, typography and laser printing. Papermilk is produced with milk fibres, cotton linter and fibres of pure virgin cellulose from responsible sources. Papermilk is FSC certified.
150717-paper-milk_Fig-W320 100dpiPapermilk is the brainchild of the Italian creative artist Susanna Bonati and has been produced in collaboration with Cordenons Spa. The company claims that the paper stands out for its softness and very pleasant velvety effect.

Gruppo Cordenons is an Italian paper manufacturer with two manufacturing sites. It has a long history going back over 400 years. The company is recognised in the market as a reliable supplier of around 2,500 quality products in the graphic and technical papers sectors. The company has always focused on special papers, as well as fine and technical papers, ranging from the metal and iridescent papers to the most innovative ones with special effects.

Smart Cap’ Soured Milk Detection System
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with colleagues at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University developed a new ‘smart cap’ design for bottles which can detect soured milk. Featuring 3D-printed electronics, the wireless technology monitors milk’s freshness to alert users when not to drink it.

A paper published in Nature covering the smart cap’s research programme describes the entire 3D printing process. This essentially involves the production of resistors, capacitors, sensors and inductors using polymers and wax as starting materials. The wax is then taken away and the hollow tubes which remain are filled with liquid silver. As a result, post-curing stage, electrical components are created.

150811-‘Smart Cap’ Soured Milk Detection System Tested02 W540 100dpiThe “smart cap” was fitted with a capacitor and an inductor to form a resonant circuit. The circuit could detect the changes in electrical signals that accompany increased levels of bacteria. The researchers periodically monitored the changes with a wireless radio-frequency probe at the start of the experiment and every 12 hours thereafter, up to 36 hours. The property of milk changes gradually as it degrades, leading to variations in its electrical characteristics. Those changes were detected wirelessly using the smart cap, which found that the peak vibration frequency of the room-temperature milk dropped by 4.3% after 36 hours. In comparison, a carton of milk kept in refrigeration at 39.2⁰F/4⁰C saw a relatively minor 0.12% shift in frequency over the same time period.

These components were put to the test in trials which saw them embedded into a milk carton’s cap to act as bacterial level monitors.
The sour milk test caps are said to provide an accurate reading on the amount of bacteria in milk cartons. All users would have to do is flip the milk carton so that enough milk covers the sensors.

The proposed “smart cap” for rapid detection of liquid food quality featuring wireless readout: (a) the smart cap with a half-gallon milk package, and the cross-sectional schematic diagram; (b) sensing principle with the equivalent circuit diagram. (Image credit: Nature.com)

The proposed “smart cap” for rapid detection of liquid food quality featuring wireless readout: (a) the smart cap with a half-gallon milk package, and the cross-sectional schematic diagram; (b) sensing principle with the equivalent circuit diagram. (Image credit: Nature.com)

This new invention isn’t solely about spoiled milk, as it can also serve as the prototype for future unpowered sensors that could determine different sorts of contaminants, including daily diabetes data and blood pressure or contamination.

Liwei Lin from the University of California, Berkeley is convinced that “This 3D printing technology could eventually make electronic circuits cheap enough to be added to packaging to provide food safety alerts for consumers. You could imagine a scenario where you can use your cellphone to check the freshness of food while it’s still on the store shelves”.

One response to “New Technologies In Milk Cartons

  1. Pingback: Innovative packaging reinforces multiple links in the supply chain | Packaging Technologies Inc.·

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