The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is supporting a next-generation smart labelling project that aims to dramatically cut food waste and health risks across the perishable goods industry.

Working in collaboration with SMEs Intray Limited and Mexar Limited, CPI is co-developing wet media formulations to ramp up production of the Oli-TecTM branded Time Temperature Indicator label (TTI).

TTIs have the potential to transform the food industry by providing real-time information on a product’s condition throughout its supply chain journey.

Existing sell-by, use-by and best before dates provide insufficient information and alerts to consumers on the shelf-life status and degradation of goods, leading to greater risk of health hazards and increased waste.

Intray has developed the underpinning proof-of-principle for an innovative, yet cost-effective, TTI label known as Oli-TecTM. This TTI label responds to time and temperature using a green, amber and red traffic light system to highlight the condition of the goods, with the latter notifying consumers that their safety could be at risk.

Through use of an amber-coloured call-to-action function, it also has the potential to save greater amounts of waste by alerting consumers to the condition of the goods as they deteriorate.

CPI, from its position within the Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult programme, is working alongside inkjet development company Mexar Limited to co-develop wet media formulations for various shelf-life timings, spread between 2 and 15 days.

Operating out of its state-of-the-art formulation facilities at NETPark in Sedgefield, County Durham, CPI is also working on developing the models for the timing mechanisms of the label.

Demonstration prototype labels will be generated, tested and evaluated, allowing Intray to carry out market trials ahead of a planned launch in 2020.

Sarah Williams, Manager – Colloid Science at CPI, said: “We are excited to work with Intray and Mexar to develop the next generation of food safety labels, supporting the development of the wet media and timing mechanism.”

The 18-month project, backed by Innovate UK funding, is expected to help Intray leverage the UK’s formulation industry and strengthen manufacturing expertise by extending TTI use outside the food industry and into other areas, such as the pharmaceutical and medical sectors.

Such tailoring means Intray could potentially secure global licenses, delivering millions of pounds in export revenues and adding value to the UK economy.

Suzanna Hawkes, Director of Intray Limited, said: “We are excited to work with CPI to allow for rigorous testing to ensure the timing mechanisms of the labels are accurate and repeatable.

“Additionally, Intray is pleased to continue its long-standing partnership with Mexar in the development of the Oli-TecTM label.”

Andy Hancock, Director of Mexar Limited, said: “We are very happy to be furthering our co-operation with CPI, having worked with the organisation on other projects in the past.

“Mexar has been involved as a long-term partner in the Oli-TecTM project and welcomes the involvement of CPI with its wealth of knowledge and excellent facilities in the North-East.”