Mar 23, 2021|

JD to Adopt NFC-enabled Flexible Packaging Technology


by Yuchuan Wang

An NFC-enabled millet product begins to be offered to Chinese consumers this month on, according to a spokesperson from JD Farm, JD’s smart agriculture team.

“For the first time, NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is being applied commercially on flexible packaging products in China,” said Dr. Hongwei Wang, the tech leader for this project at JD Logistics. The packaging was jointly designed by Amcor China, a leader in developing and producing responsible packaging and JD Logistics, for the JD Farm-branded 2 kg Yangfei Millet (which literally means sheep fertilizer millet) product.

Thanks to Amcor’s advanced manufacturing technique and JD’s NFC solution, consumers can obtain information such as origin, inspection reports, production videos and more, in a process that is as easy as holding their smart phones with the JD app near the packaging.

NFC technology enables the contactless exchange of data over short distances, e.g., Apple Pay is one of the applications of such technology. Despite the vast application in finance, traffic and other industries, it is still challenging and rare to apply NFC tags in flexible packaging, which is easily bent to break the connection between chip and antenna which are inside the tag.

“Once NFC is commercially applied in flexible packaging, it will play a vital role to change the experience of product authentication and tracing, as the tag integrated on packaging cannot be replaced or reused, in contrast to an attachment of QR code or barcode,” said Wang.

“This technology has put forward higher requirements for the manufacturing of flexible packaging to make sure it won’t influence the functionality and effectiveness, in addition to being user-friendly in design,” said Wang. “This is the reason why NFC tags were widely used for rigid packaging products such as wine, rather than food which are commonly packaged in plastics.”

Actually, unlimited multi-media information can be included in NFC tags, which will bring an interactive experience between consumers and brands that could benefit brand reputation and influence purchasing decisions. NFC will also enable products to be connected to the whole IoT network. This would make it possible for food packaging to automatically alert consumers via smart ends such as smart phones or smart refrigerators when the product is reaching its expiry date.

Apart from the application to the consumption end, JD Logistics is also researching in applying NFC technology to warehousing and distribution and more. With the cost of NFC tags continuously lowering, more and more NFC integrated packaging will emerge and is expected to make a difference to broader industries.