Light and milk just don’t mix. Because light exposure can put milk and other dairy products at risk of faster degradation, packaging plays a crucial role in protecting and preserving those products. That’s where Noluma International, LLC comes in. The Wilmington, Delaware-based company has developed a patented, state-of-the-art technology that measures, assesses and certifies the light protection capacity of packaging and helps manufacturers develop suitable packaging that can protect their milk products’ taste, freshness and nutrients from light exposure.
Noluma’s light protection technology simulates light exposure, both broad spectrum and bands within the spectrum. It subjects various types of packaging with a light-sensitive ingredient marker on them to this intense light. For dairy products, riboflavin (vitamin B2) is the ingredient marker used during the testing process. Noluma applies a proprietary algorithm to evaluate and analyze the extent of the damage to the marker and subsequently recommends and designs packaging for optimal light protection.
“We mimic the actual packaging circumstances or the conditions the product would see in a supply chain, for instance,” says Divya Chopra, president of Noluma.
Noluma says its light protection technology is more efficient and accurate than other existing methods that test how light affects milk. The company’s testing process replicates two weeks of light exposure in just two hours under varying light conditions. According to Noluma, a typical transmission test only evaluates the visible light range on packaging. In addition, standard lab testing and sensory panel analysis may take between a month and six months to complete, the company says.
While Noluma does recommend packaging materials, structures, seals and closures based on its test results, it also collaborates with manufacturers to create packaging based on their criteria, such as budget and packaging that resonates with consumers. For example, Noluma recently worked with Swiss Villa, a dairy processor based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to create packaging for its Lancaster Local brand of organic milk with A2A2 protein. Swiss Villa wanted to keep its HDPE bottles, but that type of packaging typically doesn’t offer good light protection. Noluma worked with a converter to recommend a masterbatch additive that could be added to the blow molding process for HDPE bottles and therefore achieve light protection for the packaging.
Noluma offers its own certification for packaging that achieves the highest level of light protection based on its testing method, signifying that the packaging is helping to ensure the milk’s taste, freshness and nutrients. To educate consumers about Noluma certification, the company is conducting a social media campaign. It also developed a consumer website called Light Damage is Real (www.lightdamageisreal.co.uk) that has information about how light can degrade milk and the importance of light-protected packaging.
“We provide the certification only if the packaging meets the gold standard for light protection. And we do audit the product from the shelf every few months to make sure that the consumers are protected,” Chopra says.