Flexible Packaging Targets Convenience

New bags and pouches make it easy to heat and eat — or just eat.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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The latest generation of flexible packaging has a pervasive theme: convenience. Pouches and bags for foods in a variety of categories showcase refinements in ease of package handling and opening as well as product access and preparation.

Consumer demand for fast, easy cooking continues to be a major driver. In the frozen-foods segment, H.J. Heinz Co. (www.hjheinz.com), Pittsburgh, opted for a flexible package with steam-in-pack functionality for its new line of frozen mashed potatoes. The launch represents Heinz’s first use of a steam-in-package structure, a package concept that has rapidly gained momentum in the past two years.

Heinz’s Ore-Ida Steam n’ Mash product line, which includes four flavors, launched last summer. Each 24-oz. package holds seven servings of real potatoes that have been scrubbed, peeled and chopped. After microwaving the potatoes, consumers mash them using whatever additional ingredients they prefer.

The potatoes “go from freezer to table in less than 15 minutes. Just steam the bag in the microwave, add milk and butter and mash them your way,” says Heinz spokesperson Tracey Parsons.

Alcan Packaging (www.alcanpackagingfood.com), Chicago, produces the bags, which are made from a laminate of polyethylene terephthelate (PET) and polypropylene. A high-performance sealant on the interior of the laminated film enables the packaging material to perform well in the full range of temperatures associated with frozen distribution and microwave cooking.

The Ore-Ida Steam n’ Mash bag’s self-venting feature is created using in-register laser technology. The integrity of the product and package are maintained until the heat of the microwave causes pressure to build inside the package and press it open.

For consumers, the product benefits are ultra easy product preparation and the taste (and psychology) of scratch cooking. “The Ore-Ida Steam n’ Mash launch was intended to tap into a key consumer insight of making homemade mashed potatoes that are easy enough to make every day. Now more than ever, busy moms need convenient ways to make nourishing meals their families love,” Parsons says.

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