US-based company Sonoco has entered into a new five-year research partnership with Clemson University to optimise the fresh food lifecycle.

The Sonoco Food Research Excellence for Safety and Health (FRESH) initiative will help develop new technologies and new forms of packaging.

Sonoco president and CEO Jack Sanders said: “Sonoco is committed to serving fresh brands, using packaging to tackle the challenges they face.

“Optimising fresh food packaging to extend shelf life and maintain quality makes fresh produce more accessible to communities, and helps brands and retailers extend sales opportunities and eliminate food waste.

“We believe this partnership will deliver breakthroughs to help the entire packaging industry.”

“Each year, the food industry loses $15.6bn due to food spoilage at retail. Modifying packaging design to extend shelf life by even one day can recover $1.8bn of that loss while feeding more people and reducing waste to landfills.”

Sonoco FRESH is an extension of the partnership that developed the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson, US.

Under the collaboration, the company will invest $1.725m over five years to build the multi-disciplinary hub for new research that would advance fresh food packaging and distribution.

Sonoco plastic packaging and protective solutions senior vice-president Vicki Arthur said: “We are honoured to be working with Clemson, as reducing food waste is central to our combined efforts and finding ways to extend freshness through new technology is key.

“We believe this partnership will deliver breakthroughs to help the entire packaging industry, and will have a major impact on the distribution of fresh food across the country and around the world.”

Over the same period, Sonoco will also sponsor $1m on business-driven research projects.