Innovation in packaging, key to the agrifood industry

New EU regulations state that by 2030, all packaging on the EU market must be reusable or recyclable in an economically viable manner.  They also stipulate the percentages of plastic that different packaging must contain, while banning plastic carrier bags. These measures have provoked various reactions, including protests from the food industry. This is why, with more urgency than ever, it is crucial that alternatives to plastic are found. EIT Food is one of the bodies that supports startups focused on this task, with the aim of putting an end to an era marked by plastic packaging.

According to Greenpeace data, Spain ranks fourth among EU countries with the highest demand for plastics. The new Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils is therefore a measure that forces Spaniards to reduce plastic wrapping and packaging for ready-to-eat foods, as well as take other steps.

However there is not only pressure from regulatory bodies, but also from investors and, lastly, from consumers, who are becoming more and more aware of the need for an agrifood production system that is more balanced. In this regard, the production of more efficient and environmentally-friendly wrapping and packaging undoubtedly plays an important role.


This new packaging is designed to reduce the carbon footprint of products, which also leads to companies cutting their costs (in terms of energy, materials, waste, transport and storage). In order to achieve this, wrapping and packaging must not only be easily recyclable and biodegradable, but the materials with which they are made must also come from a recycling process. At this point, technological innovation is essential.

Álex Brossa, from Packaging Cluster, indicates that the food industry is faced with some of the greatest challenges: “The expectations are for growth, particularly in flexible packaging, paper and cardboard, for packaging to be more easily recyclable and in many cases, for recycled material to be incorporated as is already happening with PET in plastic bottles. At the same time, we will find a great deal of innovation and recent developments with new materials for specific uses. In turn, these will set out future paths for us to make packaging scalable for large industrial production.”

Universities and tech hubs are essential for shedding light on new ideas and innovative solutions, while startup incubator and accelerator programmes, like those of EIT Food, are designed to help implement them and ensure business viability. This is a key combination in order to ensure that these projects, or foodtech startups, develop packaging in the near future. This is the case for Bio2Coat and Feltwood.


Bio2Coat, founded by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, has developed a range of coatings for foodstuffs, a 100% natural and edible water-based covering that protects and extends the shelf life of fruit and vegetables.

These edible coatings leave no waste and do not have any negative effect on the environment, which means that this is a completely sustainable technology.

As stated by the company, “our edible films and coatings are made with raw materials that come from food itself. Raw materials can be extracted from fruit, vegetables, roots and cereals. It is also possible to extract these materials from scraps or leftovers of food that has been recently cut. Depending on the way in which it is processed, this formulation may be a coating or a film for food packaging, and it is edible in both cases. Our main focus at the moment is on edible coatings for fruit and vegetables.”

These edible coatings preserve products for longer periods of time by reducing mass transfer (that is, gases, vapours, lipids, etc.). Bio2Coat coating also improves the visual aspect, prevents fungal attack and preserves nutritional value for consumers thanks to a slower deterioration of fruit components.

Bio2Coat therefore has two goals: to fight against food waste and the excessive use of plastic packaging.

Bio2Coat took part in the EIT Food Seedbed company incubator programme in 2020. “We knew a lot about the science and technology behind our solution, but we had no idea how to show this to the interested parties and appropriate partners in order to make it a reality,” affirm its founders. In 2022, the company was also selected by the same organisation to join the Food Accelerator Network (FAN) and therefore be able to benefit from the best connections in the agrifood industry, as well as access services and resources to accelerate its growth and implement its innovative technology on the market.

For these startups, facing up to market uncertainty with a new product and process is a real challenge, and 50% of said companies fail due to its prototypes not being validated in market conditions. It is therefore startup accelerators such as EIT Food that strive to improve this reality. These are pioneering projects, which means that it is not easy to find funding, as we are told by one of these startups: Feltwood.


Feltwood is a company from Saragossa which is developing a 100% plant-based material that aims to become a real alternative to plastic. Its characteristics ensure that it is more rigid than paper/cardboard cellulose, more malleable than wood and it does not require crops like bioplastics, in addition to being recyclable and compostable.

Another advantage of this material is the competitive cost of its raw material as by-products are used, and the minimal complexity of its manufacturing process, as it does not require large investments in machinery.

“Feltwood is starting a key funding round in order to pool the economic resources needed to scale the production of our ECOES material,” states the company. This business also joined the EIT Food community, which supports these emerging companies by enhancing their capacity for development and innovation, while validating the technical and commercial viability of the product, as well as turning it into an attractive and secure proposal in the eyes of investors.

“For an investor, the fact that our business model is backed by an accelerator programme with the reputation and calibre of EIT Food signifies a considerable reduction in the risk associated with the investment,” adds the startup.


Bio2Coat and Feltwood are two examples of the growing and necessary trend in sustainable packaging, which involves a reinvention of the industry and plastic being left behind. And at organisations such as EIT Food, the largest and most dynamic food innovation community in the world, connections are established throughout the food industry that encourage new ideas and innovations to drive change: between new companies and corporations; between entrepreneurs and food investors; between consumers and industry; between research and action; between ideas and reality; between present and future.

The FAN programme has now opened the call for this year, and its Hub in Bilbao will be focused on new sustainable food packaging solutions, with funding being offered of between 20,000 and 50,000 euros. In the words of Juliet Bray, from EIT Food, “what makes the accelerator programme unique is the personal touch and the community that we create between startups; not only do business opportunities arise between the companies that join, but also between other startups. It is very valuable for them to learn from one another.”

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