October 1, 2013
The edible food wrapper might soon go mainstream.
The latest innovation in non-throwaway food packaging is a food wrapping made partly of chocolate, nuts, and seeds. It's called Wikipearl. Naturally, it's been used to wrap sweets and dairy products.
Wikipearl is from a Harvard biomedical engineering professor named David Edwards, whose other credits include a chocolate inhaler called Le Whif and the OPHONE, which allows people to send messages containing smells.
Wikipearl, which had a test run packaging ice cream and yogurt in France in 2012, is more serious and could be more longlasting. Edwards founded the Paris art and design center Le Laboratoire. His new company, WikiCell, is behind Wikipearl.
Other products to come later in the year include GoYum Frozen Yogurt Grapes and Ice Cream Grapes, with, of course, edible packaging (such as something resembling a grape). The target market for those would initially be cafes and movie theaters, Edwards said.
Another company, Indiana-based MonoSol, has made a name for itself with water-soluble detergent packaging and is planning an entry into the edible food wrapper market later this year. MonoSol intends to target hot chocolate and porridge, both in edible packages that maintain their shape and consistency until mixed with water, when they dissolve.
A British company, Pepceuticals, is working on an edible coating for fresh meat, the food on which U.K. consumers spend the most money. And a Brazilian burger chain, Bob's, has introduced edible burger wrappers, to a mixed reaction.
Packaging food in edible wrappers would mean no disposable packaging, which would also cut into the nearly $20 billion that American hospitals, restaurants, and other eateries spend on throwaway utensils and food containers. Estimates for Americans' annual disposal of food packaging exceed 75 million tons.