MIT Solved the Ketchup Problem

No more hitting the 57, Neatoramanauts! Thanks to MIT researchers, pouring ketchup out of a bottle will be easy:

[MIT grad student Dave Smith] and a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists at the Varanasi Research Group have been held up in an MIT lab for the last two months addressing this common dining problem.

The result? LiquiGlide, a "super slippery" coating made up of nontoxic materials that can be applied to all sorts of food packaging--though ketchup and mayonnaise bottles might just be the substance’s first targets. Condiments may sound like a narrow focus for a group of MIT engineers, but not when you consider the impact it could have on food waste and the packaging industry. "It’s funny: Everyone is always like, 'Why bottles? What’s the big deal?' But then you tell them the market for bottles--just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market," Smith says. "And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year."

Fast Company has the video clip of the fancy schmancy nanotech coating: Link  

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Interesting, but according to one UK report, the majority of condiment waste breakdown looks something like this:

out of date: 34%
left over after cooking: 26%
left on plate: 20%
(Don't know about the other 20%)

Condiment/Herb offenders sorted by severity are:

Other sauces: 15.4%
Cook-in sauces: 12.2%
Herbs & Spices: 10.9%
Other condiment, spice, sauce, oil or herb: 10.2%
Mayonnaise / Salad cream: 4.6%
Ketchup: 2.9%

Proportion of the weight of food items purchased that is thrown away (mixed adult households)

Salad: 38.6%
Bakery: 23.9%
Vegetables: 14.7%
Confectionary: 11.1%
Meat and Fish: 10.4%
Condiments: 9.8%
Dried Food: 9.8%


So, it kind of does look like it was a pet project that the researchers identified with, and the $17 billion (big scary number) is a rationalization after the initial impulse that was then carried out under the pretext of altruism, when in fact it was probably just curiosity and personal identification with the pet-peeves of condiment use.

Apparently the "Bagged Salad & Dressing" market (UK data) reached $10 billion in 2011 and was expected to grow as consumers become more health conscious. 38.6% of $10 billion is greater than 9.8% of $17 billion. Maybe they should have been working on a way to keep salad fresh longer.
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Possible problem: when the bottle is full, you tip it towards your plate and the entire contents slide out, all at once. The ketchup video demo seemed to suggest that would happen. You'd be fine with a squeezy bottle, which can be controlled with the squeezing action, but in open-top bottles the coating seems to be TOO effective.
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So, Nick, you only use it in bottles with a small opening.
Consumers would like it, but do the manufacturers want less waste? After all, they would end up selling less, not to mention the cost of adding the coating.
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