The Impact of COVID-19 on Packaging, Safety and Food Waste: Clemson CI sponsored by Sonoco FRESH

August 21, 2020

By Kristy Pickurel

The Impact of COVID-19 on Packaging, Safety and Food Waste:
Clemson Creative Inquiry sponsored by Sonoco FRESH

Mint Innovations Team
Dakota Cook, Maria Camargo, Brennan Morgan, Ana Romero*
*Team Mentor

Clemson COVID Challenge.The Clemson COVID Challenge was a summer 2020 virtual research and design opportunity for teams of undergraduates to work on problems related to the current COVID-19 situation as well as future possible pandemics. Teams of students worked with mentors to identify problems and come up with proposed ideas and solutions. In mid-June, students submitted a pitch video of their ideas and competed for the opportunity to see their projects possibly continue to implementation. Sonoco FRESH sponsored a Creative Inquiry (CI) team to look at the impact of COVID-19 on packaging, safety and food waste. Below is a summary of the team’s project and a link to the team’s poster presentation.

When COVID-19 started to spread quickly across the country in early March 2020, restaurants, bars and many other places started closing. The resulting shift in food demand, combined with a change in consumer behavior, caused a strain in the supply chain.

The CI team members performed literature reviews, interviews with corporate experts in packaging and agriculture, brainstormed potential solutions and created a 3-minute video pitch describing their proposed solution of vacuum packaging.

Vacuum packaging is a type of packaging that extends shelf life by removing oxygen and preserves quality of food and increases shelf life by eliminating growth of spoilage bacteria (aerobic bacteria). Extending shelf life reduces food waste, and the tamper evident packaging will add an additional layer of comfort and safety in consumers’ minds.

View the Team’s Poster Presentation


The mission of the Sonoco FRESH initiative is to have a major impact on the safety, security and sustainability of food. This means looking holistically at the food life cycle and identifying opportunities that reimagine processes, technologies and behaviors. More information on the Sonoco FRESH initiative can be found at