For centuries, inventive minds have shaped and revolutionized what and how we eat. Inspired by the possibility of advancement, people and technology have changed our access to food and beverages, how we package and prepare our meals and the very things we eat and drink today. Here’s a look at how far we’ve come.
Shrink- wrap technology changes food packaging process and prevents food waste
Seventy-five years ago, before the onset of World War II, Henry DePoix pioneered a way to better preserve meat for French soldiers with shrink-wrap technology. This simple but critical invention allowed food to be protected and preserved for days rather than merely hours, allowing more soldiers to be fed and nourished and less food to be wasted.
This packaging innovation officially launched in North America on January 7, 1941 and since this time has revolutionized the entire food packaging process, forever changing the availability and quality of food around the world.
Today, shrink-wrap technology and equipment help food producers, retailers and consumers around the world. Improved food production and distribution as well as protection and convenience have changed the way we feed the world. Many solutions rooted in shrink-wrap also help address issues of growing concern like food waste and food safety.
Turkey packaging for holiday meals
For many years, turkey has been a key staple for meals during the holiday season. According to the National Turkey Federation, in the United States alone, we eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million on Easter.
Since the 19th century, the demand for this important centerpiece of many meals has continued to grow.
Responding to the demand, in 1962 shrink bag packaging for frozen turkey was introduced. This innovation took frozen turkey production from 128 million to 268 million in less than a decade and drastically increased the accessibility and affordability of poultry for all.
Since this time, this innovation has continued to evolve. The clamp on the frozen turkey bag is now placed and tightened by a machine instead of a plier-like tool in the 1960s. The bags have more flexibility to package a wider range of bird sizes. Different ink allows more intricate printing and designs.
Also, the variety of turkey products available to consumers makes it easy to prepare meals quickly. The demand for convenience drives new turkey packaging technologies like easy open tabs that open packages in one quick motion and portion-control packaging for better meal planning and less food waste.
Brewing for the best ale and then beer
And, with every meal, must come a good drink. Did you know that beer is one of the oldest beverages produced by humans, recorded all the way back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? Ask any consumer and they’ll tell you quality and taste matter today, just as much now as it did centuries ago.
In fact, our Diversey products and systems were named after Michael Diversey who was a partner in the famed Chicago Brewery in the mid-1800s. Now 175 years later, this legacy continues on today at Sealed Air through our regional "brewing champions” who help our brewing partners improve operational efficiency and maintain beverage safety, while also helping them stay true to flavor profiles.
Those flavor profiles and preferences haven’t always been the same though. During World War II, food shortages led to the brewing and introduction of a lighter beer. When the war ended, the lighter beer remained popular, and the surviving breweries were quick to exploit this new market.
Today, the brewing industry is a huge global business, consisting of several multinational companies and many thousands of craft brewers. Advances in refrigeration, distribution and operations have resulted in an international marketplace where consumers have hundreds of flavor choices.
Innovation makes history
Throughout the years, it’s a commitment to innovation and improvement that has made the food and beverage industry what it is today. From increased food safety, access, and convenience to reduced food waste, we have come a long way.
I believe meeting the food waste challenges of the 21st century will require even more creativity and dedication. I’m ready to be part of creating the industry of the future. Are you up for the challenge?