The edible packaging idea has been around for longer than we know it… and there is no limit on our imagination.
Do you remember the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… Willy Wonka gallantly sings and dances down the stairs before sitting down and taking a bite out of a teacup that he had been drinking out of. Standing nearby him are Charlie, Violet, Verruca, Augustus and Mike. They gaze over in awe…!
Meanwhile in the world outside TV and cinema screens it seems that Willy Wonka wasn’t that far away from reality.
Many popular brands are delving into the world of edible packaging in a bid to explore and push the boundaries of material science.
An exciting idea, but whether it can be a practical solution for todays commercial market is another question all together. Is it logical to buy a product packaged in a wrapper that you can eat? What about transporting the packaged goods safely to the supermarket shelves? The number one purpose of packaging is that it protects it from grime, dust, damage, and dirty fingers. As a consumer, when you buy your food item, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that it is 100% pristine, clean, selected, and protected just for your taste-buds.
The team at Viscose thought to take a look at some edible packaging products, including what’s on the market and current developments.
Edible Scoff-ee cups by KFC
Rumoured to be launched in UK stores, these coffee cups were created in partnership with food scientists ‘The Robin Collective’. The ‘Scoff-ee Cup’ consists of biscuit, surrounded with sugar paper, and a layer of white chocolate. The coffee inside is kept hot, and the cup remains crispy, and different scents have been developed to create the perfect aroma for the consumer when drinking their coffee. This concept reduces the waste of Styrofoam cups in use across KFC stores. A ‘nice to have’ concept, but how viable is this product? Watch this space…
Bakeys Edible Spoons
Narayaana Peesapaty, founder of Bakeys, has sold 1.5 million spoons made of millet, rice and wheat. The spoons last up to 20 minutes in hot liquids, such as soup and are entirely vegan and free from GMO’s. They are available with hinted flavours of ginger-garlic, ginger cinnamon, cumin, celery, black pepper, mint-ginger, carrot-beet as well as sweet or unflavoured for those who don’t like to experiment! The spoons have a shelf life of two to three years………………interesting!
This too shall pass by Tomorrow Machine
Tomorrow Machine is a Swedish two-man company, who have designed a range of ground breaking packaging products designed to perish along with the food. An oil package made out of caramelised sugar, a smoothie package made out of gel from agar-agar seaweed and a water and rice package made out of dried beeswax are some of the best within their range named ’This too shall pass’! These packaging designs are closer in appearance to a product out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory than ones we’d see on our supermarket shelves yet the innovation in these design ideas gives insight into how we could see edible packaging design in the future. These concepts merge both material and food science, transporting consumer goods into the modern day world! Very clever!
Wiki Pearls are small balls of ice-cream and frozen yoghurt with an edible thin gelatinous skin. The skin membrane is made of bagasse/isomal, chitosan and alginate. The Wiki Pearl is designed to be washed, like a fruit or vegetable, and is envisioned to be sold in bulk bins, similar to pick n mix. In the home they are envisioned to be kept in Tupperware style containers or reusable bags, or a new product all together, once the world catches up with this design! These are been sold and distributed across 35 stores in America, yet they are small stores not large retailers. Unfortunately what defeats the objective is that it’s sold in cardboard boxes, which contradicts the concept of edible packaging. Perhaps they could be sold as intended in the future!
Ooho water bottle!
Winner of the Lexus Design Award in 2015, and the brainchild of London-based Skipping Rocks Lab, the Oohoo is an edible water bottle suitable for human consumption. This seaweed and calcium chloride-based membrane uses spherification to case spheres of ice in the temporary clear bubble. The product would need to be scaled up if it were to hold a significant amount of water, yet even in these initial stages this suggests giant implications for developing countries. The Oohoo bottle can be made by people themselves in remote villages in developing countries. A huge design revolution. But it’s not on the shelves yet and whether we can imagine these bubbles in the supermarkets, could raise eyebrows. Would they be in a bowl, would they be in a dispenser, how would the supermarket prevent grubby hands from tampering with your product before you buy it, how would the product be branded, there is scope for a whole new way of thinking. All in good time! Skipping Rocks Lab recently received a notable sustainability grant from the European Union to ideally introduce this novel concept on a bigger scale. The opportunities are endless.
Conscientious shoppers are growing in todays sustainable world, there are many concepts which give a glimpse of how packaging design could be (as highlighted above). Perhaps a few more steps need to be taken to produce commercially viable concepts. For packaging companies, is this a practical option or is this just the big brands just trying to get more exposure? It’s all very debatable……. Did Willy Wonka begin a trend!
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