Trend spotting: Edible packaging

Trend spotting: Edible packaging

Similar to OpenUp, edible packaging is a concept on the boundary between food and packaging. Even though edible “packaging” have existed for a long time, for example in the form of  ice cream cones and tortilla breads, we are now noticing that the trend around edible packaging is becoming hotter. More and more researchers, entrepreneurs and even established companies have started looking at more advanced concepts and technologies for edible packaging. The challenges with edible packaging are many, but there are also lots of possibilities!

Far too many consumers think that packaging only is unnecessary waste. One reason is that packages are considered to only cause problems once the product is consumed; for example as empty packages are littering our streets and as recycling containers are occupying more and more space in our homes. What if the package just could disappear once the product is eaten and the package has played its part? Even better; what if you could eat both the product and the packaging?!

Edible water containers

In the future, water bottles might not exist anymore. The concept Ohoo! is an edible container for water, created through the culinary process spherification. The concept has been recognized by Global Design Forum as one of “Five ideas to shake the world”. Remaining challenges for the concept is to make the edible membranes strong enough to endure distribution without breaking.

Skärmavbild 2015-03-27 kl. 13.47.22

The edible water container Ohoo! (Image source: Skipping Rocks Lab)


Inspiration from the nature

A packaging concept that has received considerable attention in recent years is WikiPearls, which is a food packaging inspired by how nature is packaging fruit and vegetables. The packaging concept is suitable for products like ice cream, cheese, yoghurt, drinks, etc. and can be sold directly on the store shelf, without any extra packaging. WikiPearls with a frozen yoghurt content can since last year be bought at WholeFoods stores in the US. But as for now, the WikiPearl is packed with an outer, non-edible packaging.


Different kinds of WikiPearls (Image source: WikiPearls)

One challenge with edible packaging is, namely, that the hygiene requirements are very high, both during production and distribution. Furthermore, it is important that the edible packaging really protects the contents to the same degree as the corresponding conventional packaging. Otherwise there is a risk for unnecessary food waste, which would be very disadvantageous from a sustainability perspective.


Take away-packaging

Perhaps, the concept of edible packaging is best suited for restaurants and take-away consumption, when the food only should to be stored in the container for a shorter period. An example of this is Brazilian Bob’s Burgers, who a couple of years ago launched a campaign where their burgers where wrapped in edible paper. Furthermore, Kentucky Fried Chicken did very recently launch an edible, heat-resistant coffee cup in the UK.


KFC’s edible coffee cup, “the Scoff-ee cup” (Image source: KFC)


Edible algea packages


Martina visar upp två av sina algförpackningar (fotograf: Amanda Magnusson)

Algeabra is a Swedish packaging concept made of edible algae that has been developed by the designer Martina Green.

My motivation is my great environmental interest. Today there is an imbalance, as the lifespan of plastic packaging is so much longer than its content’s lifespan. Thus I wanted to find a solution where the food and packaging shares the same lifespan“, Martina explains.

The concept began as a thesis project and is still under development, but has already created considerable interest, from for example restaurants and festivals that see great potential in the idea.

Martina believe that her packages especially would be of use for takeaway food, but ultimately there are also other applications. Why not portion pack pasta in algae material and allow the pasta to be boiled together with the healthy algae?


Other interesting articles about edible packaging: