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Adhesive Solutions for Food and Beverage Packing: Here's What You Should Know

Adhesives are non-metallic and can join materials by adhesion (surface bonding) with cohesion (a bond having sufficient internal strength). Adhesives are used in various markets including bookbinding, bottle labeling, sealing cases and cartons, folding cartons, specialty, and woodworking. Among these applications, many are associated with the packaging industry.

The global market for packaging adhesives reached US$ 16,560.21 million in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.63% during 2022-2027. Food packaging adhesives, being a major segment, is a significant contributor to the overall market growth.

Expected Market Growth of Packaging Adhesives During 2022-2027

Here is all you need to know about adhesive solutions for the food and beverage packing industry and the safety regulations that apply to their usage.

Examples of Applications of Food Packaging Adhesives

Here are some important market segments in which food packaging and bottle labeling adhesives are used:

  • Petfood and other canned food

  • Veggies in cans or jars

  • Fruit preparations like jam and marmalade

  • Spreads, sauces, and condiments

  • Wine, spirits, and beer

  • Water, juices, soft drinks, and sports drinks

  • Oils and vinegar

  • Milk and other dairy drinks

Adhesives for Food Packaging

Solution/Emulsion-Based and solid Adhesives

These adhesives have good workability, low viscosity, and high molecular weight. They are further classified into:

Pressure-sensitive adhesives: They can stick to the surface even with the help of gentle pressure. The cohesion they provide is adequate and permanent. This kind of adhesive is used on tapes, film labels, and self-adhesive papers. The labels are applied to various kinds of food like sausages, vegetables, fruits, and more.

Laminating adhesives: They include acrylic and urethane adhesives used in the production of multi-layer lamination of different films. Some adhesives are cross-linked with aliphatic poly-isocyanates.

Hot melt adhesives: These are often used to close cases and cartons. Major applications of these adhesives include:

  • Tray erection: Veggies and fruits

  • Wrap around: Chocolates

  • Folding boxes: Frozen meals, biscuits, and confectionery

  • Sealing cartons and cases: cereals

  • Bag-in-boxes: Juice, wine

The global market for hot melt adhesives is set to register a CAGR of 4.8% during 2022-2027 and grow from US$ 9.1 billion in 2022 to US$ 11.4 billion in 2027. This shows the increasing demand for these adhesives.

Projected Market Growth of Hot Melt Adhesives During 2022-2027

Polyurethane Adhesives

They have high bonding strength and flexibility. The adhesives are used in bookbinding and flexible packaging of food items. The adhesives are used in book binding and flexible packaging of food items like liquid pet food and fruit juices.

Solution Adhesives

Made of natural polymers, these adhesives are of the following types:

Containing starch (like dextrin): These adhesives are used to label food containers and produce corrugated boards.

Containing casein: These adhesives are used on the labels of wet and cold bottles.

Which Adhesives Does the FDA Approve as Food-Safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regards certain glues as food safe. Section 175.105 mentions food-safe formulations of liquid-based glue, hide glue, and hot melts. There are some food-safe specifications for additives like coloring pigments. FDA-compliant adhesives come with official approval from the agency.

What Are the Regulations of the FDA About the Use of Adhesives in the Food Packaging Industry?

According to the FDA, a food-safe adhesive refers to a food-contact substance that's a constituent of the material used to manufacture, pack, package, transport, or hold foods if this kind of use is not supposed to affect the food technically.

Since at times, adhesives used to package food can come into indirect contact with it, the glue needs to pass stricter safety criteria. Adhesive manufacturers are supposed to closely follow the rules for raw materials in FDA, Section 175.300, and the formulation rules stated in Section 175.105.

Section 175.105 also needs manufacturers to abide by the rules on the ways adhesives can be used for packaging and the kind of physical contact that's allowed. As per Section 175.105, packaging manufacturers of finished food should do either of the following:

  • Make sure that adhesives are segregated from food with the help of a barrier.

  • Comply with the following extra limitations depending on food type:

    • Dry foods: The amount of adhesive in contact with the food must be within the limits stated under the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs).

    • Fatty or aqueous foods: These foods in contact with adhesives can't exceed even the slightest at the seams and edges of the packaging laminate that comes with the CGMP parameters.

Is Hot Melt Adhesive Food-Safe?

This kind of adhesive is widely used in the food packaging industry and is considered food-safe. Various hot melt adhesives are FDA-approved for both indirect and direct food contact. Certain kinds of pressure-sensitive adhesive can be used to stick labels to food, such as the stickers applied to vegetables and fruits.

Is Water-Based Liquid Adhesive Food-Safe?

Water-based glues are also extensively used in food packaging. Several types like specific formulations of resin, starch glues, and dextrin are approved by the FDA for indirect food contact. Water-based glues are also environment-friendly and used for corrugated box manufacturing, bottle labeling, packaging, sealing cereal boxes, and more.

Some adhesives used to package foods are durable and can resist water vapor. Owing to their multiple applications, low packaging cost, and high tensile strength, these adhesives act as a boon for the food and beverage packaging industry.

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