Evolution of Smart Packaging

Smart Packaging has many subcategories. Some categories are very old and being in practice hundreds of years ago. But some are very new, about 5-7 years ago.

Okay, now without wasting time, let’s see what we are going to have in this article. I have divided this topic into the following sections.

  1. Types of Smart Packaging.
    1. Active Packaging
    2. Intelligent Packaging
    3. Connected Packaging.
  2. Benefits of smart packaging
    1. Active Packaging – To Increase shelf-life via preservatives.
    2. Intelligent Packaging – To monitor the product quality through sensors.
    3. Connected Packaging – To deal with theft and counterfeit and informing consumers.
  3. Some Other benefits.
    1. Consumer Empowerment and product promotion.
  4. ASPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association)
  5. Some amazing case studies.
  6. Summary

Most courier companies use this technology. Users can track their parcels through a portal given by Courier Company.

1. Types of Smart Packaging

Under the umbrella of Smart Packaging, there are different types of packaging.

1. Active Packaging: –

This category of smart packaging is not a new method. The idea is simply to add preservatives to increase the shelf life of the product. Hundred years ago humans had saved meat by drying it with salt cause it’s a natural preservative. Pickle (preserving fruits and vegetables in oil and spices) is also very old way of active packaging.

The reason it is being called Active Packaging because it interacts chemically or biologically with product inside. It controls the moisture, temperature, and bacteria and increase the shelf-life of the product. In modern age you can see active packaging in container food in stores.

There are two main types of preservatives.

  1. Antimicrobial, which slow down the bacterial growth,
  2. Antioxidants, which slow down oxidation in fats that food to become rancid (unpleasant smell).

It also includes substances that slow down the natural ripening process in fruits and vegetables.

2. Intelligent Packaging: –

In this method, packaging does not interacts chemically but it only have some sensors that determines the conditions of product. It provides consumer some information without the use of smartphone An example can be a meat packaging that have sensor that change color with time and hence the expire time can easily be determined.

Intelligent Packaging - Sensor for product health checking

Image Reference

3. Connected Packaging: –

In this method unlike Intelligent Packaging (mentioned above in No.2) it do not interacts with packaging. User interacts with product through QR code or NFC, RFID sensor. Consumer can interact with it by scanning QR code or an application can sense the NFC label, and a page is open where consumer can read about the product use, its manufacturing date, using method, and most important it provides counterfeits and anti-theft for supply chain.

Article Reference

Example: Italian olive oil brands use NFC to battle counterfeits and engage consumers.

Some example of connected labels

NFC label:

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of wireless technology incorporated into many of the most popular smartphones…. When a smartphone picks up the passive radio signal from an NFC label, users can access specific, real-time information via the company’s cloud server.

RFID Label:

RFID labels, also called smart labels, are a useful tool for tagging and tracking consumer products, monitoring inventories and handling other applications

How it Works?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. Similar to the way bar codes collect and send data with a visual scan, RFID technology uses radio waves to collect and send information, but it doesn’t require a line of sight between a label and a scanning device.

You can see some amazing examples of Smart Packaging at this Blue Bite page. For those who don’t know, Blue Bite is a supply chain security provider that ensure the security of supplying a product.

2. Advantages of smart packaging

Every type of Smart Packaging has its benefits.

  1. Active Packaging – Product Shelf Life: As mentioned above in Active Packaging, the packaging interacts with packaging chemically, and saves it from bacteria, control moist, and slow down the process of self-ripening.
  2. Intelligent Packaging – To monitor the product quality through sensors: Counterfeits means the imitation of product or simply a copy product. So, with the use of RFID, or NFC sensor manufacturers can track and trace the product.

    The simple technological logic is that a specific identity of product can be matched in product. The application on your phone will only open the product page when the information in chip is original and in this way you can be sure that the product is genuine.


    The RFID is a mart chip that authenticates the product delivery and hence also very handy for supply chain companies. Consumer can see info about the product and this show the authentication of product.
  3. Connected Packaging – Anti-theft, substitution and counterfeit-proof goods: Counterfeits means the imitation of product or simply a copy product. So, with the use of RFID, or NFC sensor manufacturers can track and trace the product.

    The simple technological logic is that a specific identity of product can be matched in product. The application on your phone will only open the product page when the information in chip is original and in this way you can be sure that the product is genuine.


    The RFID is a mart chip that authenticates the product delivery and hence also very handy for supply chain companies. Consumer can see info about the product and this show the authentication of product.

3. Some other benefits.

  1. Consumer Empowerment and Product Promotion: Consumer can get quick and detailed info about the product like manufacturing date, expiry date, usage, benefits, Usage habits and pattern. One strong aspect that I personally see is that all this info is illegible on product. But can be read on phone easily.

    More over many brands offers, and promote by giving coupons. Like a product having a QR code on a product, ask their consumer to scan and get discount on the same or any other product.

4. AIPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association)

AIPA is official association that works for research and development for smart packaging current headquarter in Netherlands.

Andrew Manly, communications director with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (www.aipia.info), says that the list is growing as new ideas are being developed — such as mixed reality.

“It is also important to realize that some of these (both active and intelligent) are used in combination to achieve the desired result. So, track and trace can be used in conjunction with tamper evidence and/or other anti-counterfeit measures, while a shelf-life extension additive or coating can be used in conjunction with a condition monitoring device as well as promotional attributes.” he says.

According to Smithers Pira (smitherspira.com), the combined active and intelligent packaging market is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 5.9 percent, hitting $7.56 billion by 2023. Although active packaging is a mature market and shows slower growth, its counterpart is at a developmental stage. The research firm says that five trends are pushing brands toward intelligent packaging:

5. Some amazing case studies

1. Smashbox Cosmetics used Touchcode’s conductive ink

Article Reference

Smashbox Cosmetics used Touchcode’s conductive ink to embed an invisible code on a card that was included in its eyeshadow packaging. The card invited customers to visit a website, touch their mobile device to the card, and unlock a series of exclusive online video tutorials where they could learn professional makeup tips.

Because the code was invisible to the consumer, it did not interfere with the graphic design or copy on the card. Consumers simply typed a short URL into their mobile device, then touched the “connected” card to the screen to unlock the content. The campaign achieved a 23% activation rate, with a return user base of 50%, and increased website traffic by 1,300%

2. Tetra Pack: The famous food processing company want to educate their consumers about their efforts for environment through sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. So hired a company who developed a game that is associates with a QR Code. When consumer scan the code, the start and they get to know about this company’s efforts in a fun way J.
The game was developed company named Appetitecreatives.
According to them the result was beyond their expectations. So far they have achieved 43,397 scans on packaging, 49,584 users played the game, which lead to 513,951 website page views with 2:00 min average time spent on the page.

3. Bayer Pharmaceuticals: Headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, multinational pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Company Bayer AG is the biggest of its kind in the world.
Bayer wanted to provide a way in which users, sometimes young women who may be embarrassed to ask, could have the opportunity to explore contraception methods. The same company Appetitecreatives created a bright, bold, reassuringly professional app that worked instinctively. The design had to be simple, gorgeous and inviting. A personalized questionnaire was used to help users choose which contraceptive method is the best for them. At the end of the short set of questions around lifestyle and personal choices, the user receives feedback about different methods and which are the ones that fit her the most. The results could be downloaded to their phone or emailed, to be discussed with their doctor or researched and they could share the app by Whats app.
You can see all the projects this creative company has done for Tetra Pack and other brands.

6. Summary:

is that the Smart Packaging is becoming the integral part of business. The most important aspect is ease to access about the info of product and supply chain security. Fake companies cannot stole the specific identities of products. It belongs to only the original company who know about the product, and product is attached with company online system through RFID, or NFC chips.