CPI, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, has supported the development of a next generation smart labelling technology aimed at dramatically cutting food waste and health risks across the perishable goods industry.Examples of net generation smart-labelling

Working in collaboration with the SMEs Intray Limited and Mexar Limited, CPI helped to develop wet media formulations and timing mechanisms for the new Oli-Tec™ Time Temperature Indicator label (TTI) technology. These are innovative and cost-effective labels that respond to the age and temperature of specific goods.

The sell-by, use-by and best before dates used for perishable goods currently provide insufficient information to consumers about shelf-life status and degradation, leading to a greater risk of health hazards and increased waste. The Oli-Tec™ TTI could transform the food industry by providing real-time information for a specific product’s condition throughout its supply chain journey

TTIs use a green, amber and red traffic light system to highlight their condition. When the label turns red, this notifies consumers that the product is no longer fit for use or consumption. The amber call to action label means that Oli-Tec™ TTIs could help to reduce food waste by alerting consumers to the goods’ condition as it deteriorates.

The Innovate UK-funded project improved upon existing Oli-Tec™ TTI technology and proof-of-principle concepts provided by Intray. Using the state-of-the-art formulation facility at NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, CPI developed a model for the timing mechanisms of the Oli-Tec™ TTI label. This was then used to develop designs with varied timings for the labelling of different perishable goods. Intray has also used the model to generate and evaluate prototype labels in market trials ahead of a planned launch in 2020.

The 18-month project has helped Intray arrive at a point where they have a preliminary prototype label. This is capable of being tailored for use on produce in food, pharma and other sectors with further development. Such customisation means that Intray could potentially secure global licenses, creating export revenues and deliver additional value to the UK economy.

Paul Dooling, Principal Scientist and technical lead for the project at CPI, said:

“We are excited to have worked with Intray and Mexar to develop the next generation of food safety labels, supporting the development of the wet media and timing mechanism, and ultimately, contributing to help society to reduce unnecessary food waste.”

Suzanna Hawkes, Director of Intray Limited said:

“Intray are pleased to have worked with CPI to allow for rigorous testing of the media and sample labels to ensure the timing mechanisms of the labels are accurate and repeatable, to arrive at a key milestone in the development of the Oli-Tec™ label. Intray is also happy to continue its long-standing partnership with Mexar in the development of the Oli-Tec™ label.”

Andy Hancock, Director of Mexar Limited said:

“Mexar are very happy to have furthered our co-operation with CPI. Mexar have been involved as a long-term partner in the Oli-Tec™ project and welcome the involvement of CPI with their wealth of knowledge and excellent facilities here in the North-East.”

Find out more about CPI here.