Packaging is an integral part of the commercial food products where, it plays a major role in containing, protecting and preservation of food product. Along with the basic functions, packaging also provides the information regarding the ingredients added, nutritional profile, details regarding manufacturer and other additional requirements for the product like method of usage, storage, etc., With advancement in technology, the packaging also includes functions of intelligent technologies like product traceability, convenience, product recall, quality indicator of the product and tamper indication. The goal of the food packaging is extending to provide cost- effective solution for suitable industry and consumer requirements to maintain food safety and minimize negative environmental impact.

Market size of food packaging industry

The food packaging industry market was valued at USD 301.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 411 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 5.5% over the forecast period 2021 – 2026. The changes in the lifestyle of the people and changing food preferences of consumers, along with the increasing population in developing nations are the driving forces for the growth of the market in the forecasted period. The growing preference of consumers for processed food due to surge in working population, rise in disposable incomes, and lifestyle to shifts in population dynamics from rural to urban areas, is also driving the food packaging market. New packaging technologies, such as active packaging, intelligent packaging, and engineering science, have evolved over the years, which enables flexible packaging of food products. Companies are adopting eco-friendly packaging by using biodegradable, edible and sustainable packaging material which can be recycled, renewed, and reused.

Bakery industry is the dominating segment of food industry with the global market size of USD 331.37 billion in the year 2020. It is further expected to grow at CAGR of 4.6 % between 2021 and 2026 to reach a value of approximately USD 436.91 billion by 2026. With a huge potential in production and marketing of bakery products, packaging of bakery products is also increasing commercially with respect to increased shelf life, convenience for products. Hence, technological innovations are carried out for increasing sustainability in bakery packaging material with properties of active packaging, modified atmosphere packaging, intelligent packaging to access wide range of applications.

Sustainable packaging for bakery products

Sustainability in packaging industry is in conjunction with the higher environmental standards with requirements of economic system for transport, distribution and protection of products throughout the supply chain. Packaging sustainability will need to reconcile the often-conflicting consumer expectations – with regard to increasing needs for convenience, safety and shelf life as being provided by packaging – with the higher aspirations that citizens have for a greater environmental sustainability of packaging.

Conventionally bakery products are packed in polyethylene (PE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), ethyl vinyl alcohol (EVOH) or laminate pouches for commercial application to increase the shelf life of the product by preventing contamination, reduction in moisture and oxygen transfer rate. However, it can be replaced with biodegradable or edible packaging material with similar functions.

Edible packaging material

Edible coating and films have received considerable attention for apparent advantages over synthetic films. Materials used for edible packaging for bakery products include polysaccharide, lipid, protein based and their composites from different sources. The major advantage of edible packaging material over conventional synthetic materials is that it can be consumed along with the product, environmental friendly and increases the shelf life of products. By functioning as barriers, edible films feasibly reduce the complexity and thus improve the recyclability of packaging materials, compared to the more traditional non-environmental beneficial packaging materials, and possess the potential to substitute synthetic polymer films. Plasticisers are generally added to edible films for enhancement in flexibility and durability. Antioxidants are added to edible packaging materials to delay the rate of oxidation reactions. One of the significant emerging functions of edible coatings is their use as carriers of antifungal and antimicrobials agents to enhance the shelf life of foods products; they also used as carriers of nutrients to increase the nutritional value of final processed food products.

Natural polymers as packaging material

Natural polymers derived from various plant and animal sources such as banana fibre, fungal mycelium, cellulose, seaweed coconut husk, shrimp shells can be utilised in the manufacture of films for flexible packaging of several bakery products like bread, bun, muffins. Similarly, it can also be used in production of boxes to contain cakes, pastries, cupcakes, etc., The naturally available bio ingredients can be modified either chemically or enzymatically based on the specific requirement of application.

Biodegradable packaging material

Biopolymers are polymers that are created from organic and plant-based materials. They are being developed by various companies and laboratories across the globe. These miraculous materials will likely be the building blocks of the packaging supplies of the future. Biopolymers are used in the production of bioplastics, which unlike their purely synthetic counterparts, biodegrade in a short amount of time. Traditional plastics can take thousands of years to break down. Bioplastics offer consumers a genuinely earth-friendly plastic hybrid, albeit often with a higher price tag. That being said, as the technology behind bioplastics evolves, the cost of the material is expected to decrease over time while the adoption of the materials is expected to increase.


Bioplastics are made wholly or in part from renewable biomass sources such as sugarcane and corn, or from microbe such as yeast. Some bioplastics are biodegradable or even compostable under the right conditions. Bioplastics made from renewable resources can be naturally recycled by biological processes, thus limiting the use of fossil fuels and protecting the environment. Therefore, bioplastics are sustainable, largely biodegradable, and biocompatible. Today, bioplastics have become a necessity in many industrial applications such as food packaging, agriculture and horticulture, composting bags, and hygiene. With increasing demand for global plastic consumption, a lot of research is being dedicated toward exploring green materials and new ways to process them.


Packaging industry is creating huge quantity of waste after being utilised for the specific products. Hence, there is requirement for attaining sustainability in the packaging industry. Bakery industry is one of the largest contributors for packaging waste generation. Adoption of sustainable techniques of reusing, recycling enhances the contribution towards sustainable goal development. Various technologies used in production of packaging material like biodegradable, bioplastic, edible and natural fibre packaging material can be used as sustainable packaging option in packaging of bakery products.

 Senior Research Fellow, ICAR- NDRI, SRS, Bengaluru

Ph.D. Scholar, ICAR- NDRI, SRS, Bengaluru

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