Packaging is a vital component of efforts to alleviate world hunger, a pair of United Nations officials told an audience at Pack Expo. Speaking at a press conference held by IPACK-IMA, the Italian packaging trade show to be held Feb. 28-March 3, 2012 in Milan, were Bettina Luescher, chief spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme, and George Assaf, director of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Luescher spoke of how a UN-provided 25-cent helping of porridge often is the only meal of the day for children in impoverished or disaster-struck nations. “It takes so little to make a difference in the life of a child,” she said.

Assaf talked about how UNIDO, which promotes sustainable industrial development in the Third World, helps developing countries ensure food safety through packaging initiatives. He described an Egyptian initiative called Etrace, which uses packaging to help trace food back to its source, and LibanPack in Lebanon, which provides support for packaging design as well as product development from a food-safety standpoint.

It’s a matter of concern from an economic as well as a safety standpoint, Assaf said, because developed nations in Europe and elsewhere are more prone to reject exports from developing nations on safety grounds, which include substandard packaging. “That why this meeting is so important,” Assaf said. “Packaging really matters.”