New Packaging Debuts at Anuga FoodTec 2024

By Nerida Kelton

Joining 39,999 other people from 133 countries I recently ticked off my first participation at Anuga FoodTec, which was held in Cologne, Germany.

As Anuga FoodTec is the leading international trade exhibition for the food and beverage industries, the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) decided to exhibit for the first time and also participate in three speaking sessions during the four-day show.

I had the opportunity to visit some of the exhibition stands, talk to a number of exhibitors and see what packaging is new, innovative and intuitive. I was particularly looking for packaging that is recycle ready, offers improvements to packaging to provide lower environmental impacts, new advancements in paperisation and renewable materials and what is happening in Save Food Packaging design.

Some of the packs that I wanted to share were the SIG Alu Free cartons, SIG Cartons for Good, Sea6 Energy seaweed films and novel products, Micvac, Multivac Top Wrap and Top Close labelling and Paperboard, G.Mondini Slimfresh, Paper2Skin and Top lidding without flange.


SIG Alu Free cartons

SIG Alu Free cartons are an aseptic carton with no aluminium layer. The carton is FSC certified paperboard, is fully recyclable and produced with 100% renewable energy. The SIG Alu free carton has a carbon footprint up to 27% lower than standard SIG packaging material, thanks to a unique composite with no aluminium layer. It is specifically designed for liquid dairy products such as plain white UHT milk, cream, and other oxygen-insensitive products. The carton is made from up to 82% renewable paperboard, with ultra-thin polymer layers to contain and protect products over long periods of time without the need for refrigeration.

SIG also recently added the option to link to 100% forest-based renewable materials via a mass-balance system. The SIG Alu free carton is another step to remove aluminium form aseptic cartons but still maintain shelf life and barrier for products.


SIG Cartons for Good Foundation

As a part of the Save Food Org the WPO have had the opportunity to learn about the SIG Cartons for Good foundation and I had the opportunity during Anuga FoodTec to meet some of the team and learn more.

The SIG foundation’s flagship project is called Cartons for Good and is a unique initiative designed to help communities to save surplus food, support farmers’ livelihoods, and promote children’s nutrition and education. Through this program SIG plans to increase the total volume of nutritious food and beverages in SIG packaging by 50% by 2030.

SIG uses its expertise in filling technology to help communities preserve food locally, and through their expertise in packaging they can help advance sustainable development through food loss and malnutrition.  The Cartons for Good model has the capacity to deliver real, scalable benefits to many developing countries.

Farmers are paid for their surplus produce, which in turn enables additional income from their crop that they would not other otherwise be able to sell and could potentially be ploughed back into field. Saving this food before it is ploughed back into field, or wasted, also provides significant environmental impacts.

The local villages and communities use the mobile filling unit to cook the vegetables and preserve them in SIG’s long-life cartons. The food is then distributed to local schools where children are able to access nutritious hot meals. In addition, the Cartons for Good are then collected for recycling at a local facility, so the materials can be used again through the Recycling for Good program.


Micvac – helping to minimise food waste

Staying on the topic of food waste and solutions for minimising food loss and waste I was invited to visit the Micvac stand.

Micvac is an innovative food processing and packaging solution company which has designed a unique in-pack cooking and pasteurisation method that provides healthy ready meals.

The original idea was borne out of trying to preserve one of the most delicate foods there is — mussels. The inventor (and founding father), Dr Joel Haamer, conducted extensive research into marine food cultivation and preservation throughout his career. He found that the best way to preserve mussels was to get rid of all the oxygen and use a fast thermal treatment. 23 years later Micvac is a thriving business.

Micvac vs food loss and waste

The team at Micvac understand the environmental impacts of food loss and waste and they wanted to ensure that the system not only extends shelf life of the ready meals but also improves production methods to minimise food loss.

The Micvac solution sees the food cooked and pasteurised in the packaging; portion by portion. The food is usually packed raw, with very few pre-cooking steps. This means that there is far less risk of excess food loss in the production process, as there is no need to prepare large batches.

Micvac multifunctional valve

The Micvac valve is at the core of the packaging design and is constructed in layers with a special adhesive in between. As the temperature rises, the air pressure opens the valve to release the steam, and with it the air/oxygen molecules in the package. When cooling begins the valve closes and the package is airtight again. The remaining steam condenses, thereby creating under-pressure in the package.

This is a natural vacuum, allowing the meal a prolonged shelf life. The valve is able to repeat this over and over again. When the end consumer heats up the meal in the microwave oven at home, the valve once again does its duty and opens up to release air — and with it a whistling signal.

Ready Meals made with the Micvac method have a shelf life of approximately 40-60 days, which in turn ensures that stores can keep food waste to a minimum. The packs are designed with portion control in mind, extension of shelf life and consumer convenience. A Micvac-made portion, with its unique extension of shelf-life design features, lasts a considerable time in the fridge. A portion-cooked ready meal is less likely to be wasted through the Micvac solution.

Micvac and packaging

The package used at Micvac is in many ways superior to other meal solutions. A Micvac portion has a minimum of plastic per kilo of food thanks to the vacuum and cooking process. The Micvac tray is designed to use just the right amount of packaging for the contents, which means no unnecessary air is transported. Furthermore, the trays are recyclable and the plastic gets used in the production of new products.

When we look at Save Food Packaging design and technologies for minimising food loss and waste Micvac really stood out to me as unique and I look forward to seeing this business extend elsewhere in the world.


Multivac sustainable packaging solutions

Visiting the Multivac stand at Anuga FoodTec actually took two trips as there was so much to discover in the way of advancements in sustainable packaging solutions, fibre-based trays and some very impressive top wrap and top close labelling.

If your fruit and vegetables don’t have to be packed in a modified atmosphere or a vacuum, then your trays can be sealed with labels and marked directly.

Top Wrap Labelling

Top wrap labelling seals the trays with a label from above and over two sides so that the content of the tray is secure from falling out or being easily removed from the tray. The packs are automatically labelled on the line, providing tangible cost savings compared to time-consuming, manual packaging solutions.

There are a wide range of label materials available to match the recyclability regulations for each country and a combination of cardboard trays and paper labels optimise recyclability of the pack. The cut-outs are designed for air circulation.

Top Close Labelling

In the case of Top Close labelling, a label adheres only to the edge of the tray. Top close labelling seals trays from above and labels them in a single pass. The carrier material is retained in the centre of the label so that your product does not come into contact with the adhesive.


The one innovation that I saw across multiple stands were paper-based meat trays and I was interested to see if there had been any advancements in functionality and sustainable packaging design features. The Multivac PaperBoard formable paper stood out to me for its thoughtful and intuitive design.

PaperBoard – formable paper

The PaperBoard series has been designed to eliminate single use plastics, reduce the use of plastics and improve recyclability of the packs.

PaperBoard material can be run on packaging systems in the form of rolls, pre-cuts, or trays. Paper fibre and cardboard composites with different grammages and functional layers are available. The use of functional layers makes it possible to produce paper-based packs that meet the barrier property requirements of the respective product.

What I personally like about the PaperBoard series is that the design is a step ahead of many other available solutions in the market for separability of the components for recycling. So many consumers get frustrated by some of the packs on the market as they can’t easily separate the film from the paper. This in turn means that the separable components end up in the wrong disposal bin and the pack that has been promoted as reducing single use plastic and being ‘more sustainable’ is not actually meeting sustainable design standards.

The PaperBoard design however does separate easily as I tested multiple packs. The design features are intuitive and ensures that the paper and the film can in fact be easily and quickly separated by a consumer.

New Flexible Vacuum Pack for Mince

During my visits to the Multivac stand there was one pack that stood out in the refrigerator that I needed to see.

It was a brand-new mince pack that has been designed as a flexible vacuum pack. The soft plastics mince pack replaces a traditional rigid tray sealing application with Modified Atmosphere Packaging, with a flexible thermoformed vacuum pack.

The benefits include reduction of plastics used in the design of the packaging at the start, improved shelf life extension through the use of vacuum packs which reduces food waste, and a very unique design at point of sale that not only stands out on shelf but is also easily openable.

This pack certainly stood out in the refrigerator for me, and I am interested to see how this solution is rolled out across the world.


Sea6 Energy developing seaweed-based films

I was lucky enough to have shared a stage with Ludwig Schmidtchen from Sea6 Energy at a Science Slam presentation and I walked away thinking a lot more about seaweed and whether this is a viable alternate for some packaging films. It is certainly an area that we need to better understand.

Seaweeds, characterised by their efficient utilisation of solar energy and minimal resource requirements, offer a promising solution to address the pressing challenges of resource scarcity and environmental degradation.

The utilisation of seaweed biomass extends beyond traditional boundaries, encompassing the production of bio stimulants for agriculture and horticulture, food and feed ingredients, and the development of innovative biomaterials tailored for the packaging industry.

Headquartered in Bangalore, Sea6 Energy believes that there is a critical need to design innovation strategies to meet the escalating demand for raw materials, particularly within the packaging industry.

Sea6 Energy is actively engaged in research and development efforts to formulate seaweed-derived biomaterials such as coatings, and extrusion compounds for flexible films and rigids. These biomaterials offer several advantages, including biodegradability, renewability, and reduced environmental impact, positioning them as sustainable alternatives to traditional packaging materials.

Sea6 Energy have become a pioneer of innovative technologies for sustainable, large-scale and mechanised farming of sea-plants and the conversion of this sea-plant biomass to novel products for use in agriculture, aquaculture, food ingredients, renewable chemicals, bioplastics as well as Biofuel.

Sea6 Energy are developing seaweed based, compostable films that can be used for packaging of FMCG goods and fast foods. These films, when discarded into the environment, will compost in a few months and are available in Food and Non-food grades. The commercialisation of first materials is targeted within the next 12 months.

Central to this narrative is Sea6 Energy’s groundbreaking initiative, marked by the inauguration of a pioneering 1-square-kilometre seaweed farm in Indonesia in February 2024. This venture represents a significant milestone in large-scale seaweed cultivation, positioning Sea6 Energy at the forefront of sustainable resource utilisation. Through meticulous cultivation practices and leveraging the abundant sunlight and stable conditions around the equatorial ocean, Sea6 Energy can harvest biomass for a diverse array of applications at industry relevant scale.

I look forward to watching Sea6 Energy developments in the future.



The last stand that I wanted to talk about was G.Mondini and the first thing that stopped me was the display of the SlimFresh for Salmon. The skin pack solution offering thinness of pack was the first thing that caught my eye. Compared to other solutions for Salmon packaging that I have seen recently, this one really stands out.

SlimFresh is composed of a flat cardboard support as its base laminated with a thin layer of plastic film and sealed with a top skin web as a second invisible skin around the product. The resulting vacuum skin pack offers the possibility of extending food shelf-life, ensuring freshness and bringing logistic benefits.

Recycling and sustainability are the drivers of this new pack and removing the plastic film liner from the paper is simple, ensuring efficient recycling of the paper/fibre support.

The SlimFresh skin pack solution is made up of a cardboard base combined with vacuum skin packaging. The pack offers a uniquely shaped window and the laser cutting of paper allows each brand to be able to create several window shapes depending on the product shape and size. It has the ability to pack irregular shapes for better merchandising and offers all the benefits of skin packing to ensure optimal package performance.


Another paper-based solution that I saw on the G.Mondini stand was Paper2Skin which is a unique and innovative paper top skin web technology designed to take packaging to the next level. The pack has been designed to eliminate single use plastics, use less materials at the start and ensure that the materials can be separated and recycled easily at the end of life.

The Paper2Skin material is FSC/PEFC certified, is designed to be able to separate the components for recyclability and is easily openable for the consumer.

G.Mondini Top Lidding without flange

The final solution that I wanted to share was the Top Lidding Film without flange solution.

The G.Mondini flange-free technology looks to revolutionise the way products are sealed, eliminating flange distortion during both the loading and sealing processes. The design eliminates single use plastic and the amount of plastic used in your products at the start and ensures that the pack can be recycled by the consumer at the end of life.

Additional benefits include no flange distortion during loading and sealing operations, ensures that the tray and final pack remain sturdy throughout the entire value chain and there is no flange distortion on the retail shelf for the consumer to see.

Trays without flanges are readily available on the market, allowing for easy adaptation into existing production lines. The trays without flanges not only optimise storage space but also contribute to more sustainable resource management and reduced carbon emissions.


Anuga FoodTec has always been on my bucket list of global trade shows that I have wanted to see and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see as many exhibition stands as I had wanted, as it is a very large exhibition with thousands of stands.

I have no doubt that there were many other innovative packaging designs on display that I missed, but the ones I have showcased are just some that I wanted to share with you.

If you are planning to attend the next edition of Anuga FoodTec on the 23rd to 26th of February 2027 I would recommend that you allow at least two days to walk around the show. I also look forward to returning to Anuga FoodTec in 2027 to see even more advancements in sustainable packaging and recycle ready packs. Imagine what we will see in three years!

Nerida Kelton FAIP

Vice President Sustainability & Save Food, WPO

Executive Director, AIP