According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, costing about $680 billion in industrialized countries combined and $310 billion in the developing countries. Imagine what that means for the 800 million people who suffer from starvation across the globe. That’s 2.6 trillion lbs of food wasted annually, enough to feed those people twice over.

Thirty-one per cent of all food produced in the United States goes uneaten, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015 figures, and each American discards more than 36 lbs of groceries every month. The impact of this waste extends beyond overstuffed trash bins. When food goes to waste, so do the resources that it took to produce, process and transport them.

Consumers and food companies are increasingly aware of environmental damage and mindful of the financial hit they take from buying food they end up discarding. To directly address this loss, manufacturers — along with retailers and government agencies — are increasingly motivated to implement advanced packaging solutions that extend shelf life and minimize waste.

To help baking and snack professionals find the solutions they need, Pack Expo International 2018, to be held Oct. 14-17 at McCormick Place, Chicago, will showcase a wide range of packaging materials, containers and equipment from more than 2,500 exhibitors. In addition, more than 50,000 attendees will experience features like the Containers and Materials Pavilion and Reusable Packaging Pavilion where cutting-edge innovations in flexible, resealable and sustainable packaging will be on display.

In addition to material and container solutions to preserve food and beverages longer, companies are exploring more complex packaging solutions and methodologies to reduce waste. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) can extend the life of fresh or minimally processed foods much longer with less environmental impact. It significantly reduces the amount of oxygen sealed into bags of products like potato chips.

Attendees at this year’s show can also expect the latest information on smart labels and systematic solutions. Smart labels monitor temperature and report when a food item is at risk of spoiling. This cold chain revolution allows more efficient, safer shipments of perishables. For example, the timestrip monitor registers if a product travels out of safe temperature range and for how long, then recommends if it should be sold or thrown out. Though these monitors are not in wide use yet, this type of packaging may lead to even safer shipment and consumption in the future.

Through MAP and other advances in packaging technology, Pack Expo International attendees can learn ways to slow the amount of food waste around the world. In doing so, companies have opportunities to save money and truly make a difference.

To register for and learn more about Pack Expo International, visit