Sonoco (Hartsville, SC), one of the largest diversified packaging companies in the world, has announced a new research partnership with Clemson University (Clemson, SC). The Sonoco FRESH (Food Research Excellence for Safety and Health) initiative will develop new technologies and new forms of packaging to optimize the fresh food lifecycle. “Sonoco is committed to serving fresh brands, using packaging to tackle the challenges they face,” said Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders. “Optimizing fresh food packaging to extend shelf life and maintain quality makes fresh produce more accessible to communities, and helps brands and retailers extend sales opportunities and eliminate food waste. Each year, the food industry loses $15.6 billion due to food spoilage at retail. Modifying packaging design to extend shelf life by even one day, can recover $1.8 billion of that loss – while feeding more people and reducing waste to landfills.”
To establish the multi-disciplinary hub for innovation and research to advance fresh food packaging and distribution, Sonoco will contribute $1.725 million over 5 years. The company will also sponsor business-driven research projects totalling $1 million over that period. Sonoco FRESH is an extension of the partnership that created the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University.
“Working with outstanding industry partners like Sonoco allows us to do more to develop solutions for the grand challenges facing the world – and it also helps us to prepare our students to become future leaders,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. “Leveraging the expertise of our faculty, Sonoco FRESH will play a key role in exposing our undergraduate and graduate students to issues related to the crisis of food waste and sustainability, so that they’ll be informed and responsible decision makers as they enter the workforce.”
“We’re honoured to be working with Clemson, as reducing food waste is central to our combined efforts – and finding ways to extend freshness through new technology is key,” said Vicki Arthur, Sonoco’s Senior Vice President of Plastic Packaging and Protective Solutions. “We believe this partnership will deliver breakthroughs to help the entire packaging industry, and will have a major impact on the distribution of fresh food across the country and around the world.”