Plastic packaged fruit in yellow and red on shop shelves

Professor Trott explores how smarter packaging could actually cut down food waste

  • 12 January 2021
  • 2 min read

A recent surge in awareness around the global plastic pollution problem has left the average person more conscious of waste in their lifestyle.

But one University of Portsmouth Professor is countering anti-plastic confusion by explaining how some kinds of plastic can actually reduce problems of waste.

Paul Trott is Professor of Innovation Management at the Faculty of Business and Law. He explains eco-innovation in the latest episode of the University of Portsmouth's podcast, Life Solved.

Smarter packaging to cut food waste

The evidence is pretty dramatic. Packaging is a powerful reducer of food waste. Depending on the fruit, whether it's raspberries, blueberries, whatever, that can double the shelf life.

Professor Paul Trott, Professor of Innovation Management

Research done into the technology behind keeping foods like fruit fresh has shown that specially adapted packaging can actually prolong the shelf and fridge life of products. This might be through aeration, distribution or other means, but the result is that the right sort of packaging can keep the food in our fridge fresher for longer, or allow us to buy in more manageable quantities.

Professor Trott has had to deal with the commercial concerns of supermarkets and suppliers too, contributing to an argument that innovation that benefits the world can also benefit profit margins too. He explained how exploring such issues has also raised questions of where the responsibility lies for cost effective distribution.

Complicated commercial power dynamics

We show through our research examples where retailers are very negative because they're always wanting price reductions. And so suppliers will say, ‘we've got lots of new products to do this, we can do that’. And the retailers will often say ‘no thanks'.

Professor Paul Trott, Professor of Innovation Management

In order to get around the thorny issue of supermarket price wars, Professor Trott has looked at how building packaging that helps with convenient or safe dispensing and cooking can add value and allow shops to charge a premium for it.

In the podcast, Paul touches on ethical issues around the power relationship between supplier, retailer and manufacturer in the food industry, and explains how research into innovation in this sector has led to some unique findings.

And the benefits don't seem to be limited to the consumer either. Professor Trott's findings show clearly that companies investing in research and development outperform their competitors. Perhaps it's time for a shakeup in the traditional food retail relationship.

Listen to the Life Solved podcast

The Life Solved podcast explores the world-changing ideas and research coming out of the University of Portsmouth.

You can listen to Professor Trott's episode, "Politics and Packaging", on all podcast apps from Tuesday 12th January. Search for 'Life Solved' on any app or online to listen.

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