Pouch Packaging Design Helps Meet Demand

Sept. 12, 2006
Peppadew’s South African pepper products are a hit the world over; not so for the plastic buckets its foodservice products came in.

Peppadew International (Pty) Ltd. markets a range of sweet piquanté pepper products under the Peppadew brand. Based on a carefully guarded secret recipe, the products deliver a balanced sweet and spicy taste and crispy texture.

Peppadew is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, and this particular style of pepper is uniquely South African. The taste has been warmly embraced by customers around the world. As a result, the company has grown at around 50-70 percent per year over the past five years, with annual production of finished product now at 5,000 tons. This growth is expected to continue.

Peppadew worked with Sealed Air Cryovac to develop the Cryovac Vertical Pouch Packaging technology, which proved the ideal solution for this packaging need.

The company delivers its peppers and pepper-based sauces and relishes to supermarkets and foodservice operators around the world. Approximately 80 percent of sales come from export markets. While retail products, accounting for 40 percent of sales, are packaged in glass jars, products for foodservice were packed in plastic buckets — a packaging solution that needed upgrading to prolong shelf life and enhance operational efficiency.

After researching a number of possibilities, Peppadew began work with Sealed Air Cryovac. Together, they pioneered and fine-tuned a new packaging application that offers substantial advantages over rigid containers. The Cryovac Vertical Pouch Packaging (VPP) technology has proven the ideal solution for packaging fruit and vegetables in brine in safe, hygienic and highly resistant flexible pouches offering prolonged shelf life.

The turnkey system delivered by Cryovac comprises a product infeed pump conveyor and scales to dose the exact weight required, connected to a vertical form-fill-seal machine and discharge conveyor linked to a pasteurizer and metal detector. The system produces 2-kg flexible pouches in two versions: plain for the U.S. market and blue for Europe.

After 18 months of continuous development, testing, fine tuning and staff training, the system is running smoothly and this year has become a genuine success. “The learning curve has been steep and long for both parties, but the results are simply fantastic”, said Phil Ovens, Peppadew’s international managing director. “Training our staff on this sophisticated technology required gigantic efforts but it has really paid off.”

The major benefits of the Cryovac VPP technology are prolonged shelf life and enhanced quality assurance. Cryovac flexible pouches are made of fully coextruded, multilayer, high-barrier film. This unique technology provides a pack with no headspace, which is heat sealed and separated into a finished, hermetic, puncture-resistant pillow pouch that has high pack integrity.

The high-barrier materials provide the Peppadew sweet piquanté peppers with optimal protection and a shelf life of 24 months (the former buckets offered only four months). The flexible pouches thus match the shelf life provided by the glass jars used for consumer portions.

Flexible pouches can be pasteurized and are ideal for the preservative-free Peppadew product, thus supporting the strong brand identity. Other advantages include:

  • Optimized storage, with 30-35 percent more efficient space utilization.
  • Total product protection.
  • High convenience with easy opening, storage, handling and identification.
  • Increased safety during handling.
  • Reduced waste, as pouches are more easily discarded than plastic buckets.

Moreover, flexible pouches are a competitively priced packaging solution compared with all rigid containers, resulting in significant cost savings and enhanced operational efficiency.

In addition to the benefits to the processor, the new packaging provides benefits to the deli counters at retail chains, facilitating product storage and handling as well as keeping stocks full at all times. Thanks to this new packaging, applications in the foodservice and catering sectors are continuously expanding, including deli counters and olive bars at retail stores (especially in the U.S.), further-processing food companies that are stuffing the peppers with cheese, meat or tuna or using them to enhance pasta salads or antipasto dishes, as well as the flavor-enhancer business for use in bread, sausages and other food items.

“Cryovac VPP is a unique packaging for us,” explains Ovens. “We got massive support from Cryovac, and we had massive determination to make it happen – and we did. Cryovac is a true partner, and thanks to them, this is a real success story.”

Thanks to this success, Peppadew International is looking at introducing consumer-size stand-up pouches for the chilled counters at retail stores. The company recently bought an additional Cryovac VPP machine to boost production and keep up with soaring international demand.

For more information, contact the Cryovac div. of Sealed Air Corp. at 800-845-3456,