Closing the gap on plastics packaging and shelf life

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th October 2015

Australian Insitue of Food Science and TechnologyA lack of knowledge on food packaging and shelf life could be costing Australian food producers through over packaging and hindering their export potential into Asia, according to a leading packaging technology expert.


With local food producers looking to the Asia-Pacific market as an opportunity to grow their businesses, Dr Gordon Robertson, a former Professor of Packaging Technology, says there is a knowledge gap when it comes to effective polymer packaging and what that means for a food product’s shelf life, particularly in the more tropical Asian climates.


“That’s the real challenge. You can sell a product happily in Australia but then you get someone in the tropical countries who wants to buy it, and you find the shelf life is reduced because it’s a much warmer climate and high humidity. How do you take that into account? Well come to the workshop and you’ll find out,” Dr Robertson said.


Dr Robertson will be holding a two-day workshop on Plastics Packaging and Shelf Life for the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) at the CSIRO in Melbourne from 10-11 November 2015.


Back by popular demand, Dr Robertson will conduct the workshop for the AIFST to close the significant industry knowledge gap on polymer packaging and shelf life.


“While some food science and technology degree courses do include lectures on food packaging, they tend to be superficial. As a result, many graduates have a less than adequate understanding of the basic principles and their practical application in today’s industrial world,” he said.


“That’s why there is a lot of interest in the workshops. People get into industry and find they have to deal with packaging and shelf life and they know nothing about it, even though they have a degree in food technology or science.”


Although technology around food packaging is becoming increasingly sophisticated, Dr Robertson says his workshop is focused on the basics. This includes the different types of plastic packaging materials, their permeability and barrier properties, converting plastics into effective packaging for different food types, food deterioration and how to determine a food’s shelf life and package accordingly.


“It’s really a case of giving people the methodology to design their own packaging trials, and select the right plastic to give them the shelf life they want,” he said.


Dr Robertson says small to medium sized businesses tend to rely on the advice of packaging suppliers for their packaging needs. But without food technology expertise, over-packaging and larger costs can result.


“I’m here to inform our AIFST members that you can’t rely solely on your suppliers. They are packaging manufacturers, not food technologists and they have no knowledge of food or how it deteriorates.”


“Anyone can over-package a product, that’s a no brainer. But to actually choose the right combination of plastics, to give you just the right shelf life requires a bit more knowledge. And you save a lot of money in the process.”


Limited places are available for Dr Robertson’s Plastics Packaging and Shelf Life workshop at CSIRO Food and Nutrition, in Werribee.


To register, please visit


Dates and times:
10-11 November 2015
8.30am-4:45pm both days. All refreshment breaks provided


671 Sneydes Road
Werribee, VIC  3030


AIFST/AFGC members $990 (incl GST)
Non- members $1265 (incl GST)


About AIFST – AIFST is the national not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Australia’s food industry professionals. The Institute provides a forum for members to promote and communicate the application of science, technology, engineering, education and sound practices to improve the production and utilisation of safe, high quality and nutritious foods.