SEALPAC designs and manufactures packaging machines that maximise the value of pre-packed foods. At IFFA 2010, held in Frankfurt am Main in May, SEALPAC presented innovative packaging solutions in response to three major issues in the food industry. Felicity Landon reports.
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How can food packs be designed so that opening them is more userfriendly? How can meat maturation in the case-ready segment be optimised? Is it possible to achieve a more efficient, yet more flexible, shrink pack? Three major questions in the food industry, for which SEALPAC wanted to provide an answer.
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And, thanks to the company’s unique product philosophy, SEALPAC did provide those answers. Marcel Veenstra, marketing & communications manager at SEALPAC International, says: “We have learned to put the consumer first. Our state-of-the-art packaging machines are just means to create the optimum pack. If you look at our latest innovations, EasyPeelPoint, ShrinkStyle® and TenderPac, which were introduced during the international exhibition for the meat industry, IFFA 2010, they have all been developed with the consumer in mind.”
EasyPeelPoint – no scissors, no knives Around 60 per cent of today’s fresh meat is sold to consumers pre-packed. However, these hermetically closed packs often have a big disadvantage – it can be really difficult to remove the top film. “Compared to the investments in appearance, often relatively little attention is paid to the opening functionality of the pack,” says Mr Veenstra. “Either the top film tears when opening, or the peel corner cannot be gripped easily, or the consumer is not even able to detect the opening aid. So the consumer grabs the scissors or a knife in order to get into the pack. By introducing an exceptionally consumer-friendly opening aid, SEALPAC changes that. Our revolutionary EasyPeelPoint system means that sealed trays and thermoformer packs can now be opened without effort.”
With EasyPeelPoint, SEALPAC has moved the peel corner within the contours of the pack. The top film of the pack is pressed into a round cavity and is thus released from the sealing edge. “As counterforce can be dosed accurately, the peel function is activated to perfection,” says Mr Veenstra. “The EasyPeelPoint system convinces due to its self-explanatory function with natural feel; the peel corner can easily be gripped, after which the top film is removed from the pack with minimum effort. It is also feasible with re-closable films.”
EasyPeelPoint is also particularly uncomplicated in production, he says, and can be applied on all common SEALPAC traysealers and thermoformers. In case of tray-sealing, the trays are equipped with two opening points that are positioned diagonally opposite each other. This means it doesn’t matter which way the trays are placed on the infeed conveyor, so there are no costly errors due to rotation of the trays. When it comes to thermoforming, the peel corner within the contours of the pack is less subjective to unwanted cold sealing, which regularly occurs in the cutting area of existing thermoforming
processes. Also, no special cutting system is required.
The system also proves its added value in transport and storage, says Mr Veenstra. “EasyPeelPoint can be applied on every standard packaging format and does not intervene with the existing logistical chain.”
The packing of whole chickens in a secure, hygienic and appealing manner has long been a challenge for the food industry. “With ShrinkStyle®, we have optimised the common shrink packaging process, so that poultry processors are now able to benefit from a highly profitable packaging system that is suitable for even more sophisticated products, such as whole chickens,” says Mr Veenstra. “The fully automated vacuum packaging system combines the benefits of thermoforming and shrink technology.”
The process starts with the forming of the bottom film. The product is then loaded from above, eliminating the problem of contaminated sealing edges. The pack is then vacuumised and sealed. “In this fully controlled shrink packaging process, the film fits the contours of the product like a second skin,” he says. “An optional opening aid ensures
consumer-friendly handling of the pack. The extremely strong seal protects the poultry product against drip-loss during the complete production chain whilst maintaining its freshness and clearly extending its shelf life.”
ShrinkStyle® is particularly cost-effective thanks to the high degree of automation, which considerably reduces personnel costs, he says; for example, the manual clipping of the chicken’s legs is no longer necessary. The system makes efficient use of packaging materials and energy sources whilst the hightransparent film highlights the product for a ‘striking’ presentation in the shop.
The ShrinkStyle® packaging system is suitable on SEALPAC’s full range of RE-series thermoformers and allows the use of all regular shrink films, irrespective of strength or print, subject to careful testing. Projects have already been set up with renowned manufacturers such as Krehalon and Bemis.
“Perfect protection, hygienically packed products with extended shelf life, an appealing and sturdy presentation, highest efficiency and full control in production – these are the benefits of our innovative ShrinkStyle® system, which not only apply to whole chickens, but also to products such as red meat, sausages and cheeses,” says Mr Veenstra.
“Due to the perfect fit, it allows for unique shrink packs, which combine product safety with an eye-catching appearance, even for the
most demanding product shapes.
Whether it is fine steaks or rustic stew, tender meat quality and the aromatic flavour of beef is only achieved after perfect maturation. Hence, creating the optimum in-pack post-maturation for fresh red meat is one of the main topics in the industry. In response, SEALPAC developed TenderPac, a vacuum pack consisting of two flexible films, which possess the optimal characteristics for in-pack post-maturation.
The pack consists of two compartments, which are separated by a porous seam. TenderPac is presented vertically, either standing or hanging, with the product in the upper compartment. Drip-loss, which flows from the meat during post-maturation, is absorbed by a special soaker pad in the second compartment, which is invisible to the consumer due to printing or labelling of the film. “Even after opening the pack, the
consumer will not come into contact with the meat’s drip-loss,” explains Mr Veenstra.
TenderPac packs are processed on SEALPAC’s RE-series thermoformers. “The system enables meat processors to present their red meat in an appetising and striking manner, while offering the best possible postmaturation conditions,” he says. “With TenderPac, beef will keep its appetising red colour, which consumers have become used to, while shelf life is extended. The controlled collection of drip-loss means that consumers obtain an appealing fresh piece of meat, which is stored dry and hygienic.”
Flexibility, reliability, performance
The focus is firmly on innovation at SEALPAC, whose customer database values the reliability, flexibility and performance of its traysealers
and thermoformers, says Marcel Veenstra.
“To solve any key issues facing the food industry, we will keep developing innovative solutions with these principles in mind. New
packaging solutions can, for example, always be applied on existing SEALPAC equipment. Our customers expect future-proof, non-dedicated
packaging machines. And that is exactly what they get from SEALPAC.”