Ember, which is best known for making precision-controlled heated mugs, will be expanding into reusable packaging that can be employed for a variety of purposes, including food in the cold chain. Ember Founder and CEO, Clay Alexander spoke about the packaging plans during a brief talk at The Spoon’s Food Tech Live virtual event today.
Alexander didn’t provide many details around the forthcoming product. He said only that the cloud-connected boxes could be used to ship items at a cold temperature in a way that could be monitored and audited. He said Ember is also working on technology that makes the containers reusable.
Obviously, in this pandemic world, an immediate use case for this technology is shipping COVID vaccines, which must be kept cold. (Alexander didn’t say if his boxes could reach the super cold depths the vaccines require.) But there are actually a lot of uses for this packaging in the food world.
The cold chain is a big deal in the fresh and frozen food world for suppliers, distributors, and retailers. Ensuring food is kept at the proper temperature helps prevent spoilage and waste. Companies like Varcode, which uses IoT, blockchain and temperature sensors, currently provide monitoring and auditing technology for the cold chain.
But if they work as promised, another important aspect of Ember’s containers is that they would be reusable. Current cold and frozen shipping methods use a lot of dry ice or frozen gel packs and generate a lot of waste. The ability to keep contents cold in a package that is sent back for more use could be a game changer in the direct-to-consumer retail business.