Packages that are changing the face of food processing
The shelf-stable milk bottle, aseptic box and stand-up pouch will make museum pieces out of gabletop cartons, cans and many other packages.
Based on their customized construction, they are adaptable to a range of temperature tolerances, including retort processing (for more about retort pouch trends and technologies, see p.93).
SUPs also can offer excellent barrier properties for gas-flushing and other modified atmosphere packaging applications to extend product shelf life. And they can be produced in both clear and opaque formats, sometimes with customized handles and pouring spouts, in a range of specialized shapes, depending on user requirements.
For clear SUP applications, Kapak Corp., Minneapolis, offers the FlexiBowl, adaptable for both retort and non-retort products. FlexiBowl can be custom-produced in a range of laminations and barrier structures to satisfy specific product needs and can be printed in up to eight colors. Sizes range from single-serve to 2-lb. foodservice packs. Precise laser scoring enables easy removal of the peel-strip without use of knives, scissors or other utensils to create a stable-standing “bowl” ready for microwave heating.
In terms of packaging speeds, packaging equipment technology advances also are making the SUP more attractive. And more contract packagers are offering SUP packaging services for processors who prefer not to invest in their own stand-up pouch packaging machinery.
While stand-up pouches provide a lighter-weight, freight cost-saving, disposability space-saving alternative to some other packaging types, one drawback has been their inability to be stacked during shipment, storage and in-store shelf display. UK-based Amcor Flexibles, working with German packaging machinery manufacturer Rovema, responded to that problem with the introduction of FlexCans—easy-open, recloseable stand-up pouches with flat-top nestable/stackable panels. Their stiff structure comes from a three-ply laminate of oriented polypropylene, metallized polyethylene terephthalate and lapseal polyethylene. The British sun-dried fruits and nuts company Sundora already is using the Amcor FlexCan to package dried fruits.
While tuna has been in stand-up pouches for three years or so, Chicken of the Sea this summer was the first to pouch shellfish, including crab, imitation crab, shrimp, clams and smoked oysters.
It’s no wonder SUPs are experiencing a growth surge. They are the fastest-growing segment of the pouch market, increasing at an average rate of 15 percent per year through 2008 to $1.3 billion, according to a recent study by Freedonia Group, Cleveland (the “Pouches” study is available for $4,200 by contacting Corinne Gangloff, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
.) The report concludes stand-up pouches are driving the overall U.S. pouch market, which is projected to reach $5.2 billion in 2008. By then they will represent 5 percent of all packaging.