New flexible pouch 'freshens' guacamole

Packaging Digest Staff

February 1, 2014

5 Min Read
New flexible pouch 'freshens' guacamole

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In a short period of time, Avomex Incorporated, Keller, TX, evolved from a local supplier of all-natural packaged avocado and guacamole, to a provider to most major national retail chains. Breaking into national retail chains is a strategic shift that requires high-volume packaging of its guacamole for larger market share. A customized packaging system utilizing modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP) enables Avomex to leverage lucrative private-label opportunities with its unique version of its traditional avocado/guacamole. Retail is one of the fastest growing segments of Avomex's business, attributing to increased sales for the last five consecutive years, and positioning the company for continued growth.

"Our goal is to continue growing our business in the branded retail and foodservice channels by leveraging our existing packaging operations and working with long-time supplier Multivac to develop innovative new solutions," says Steve Parnell, president of Avomex. "We've built our company using this equipment, and with Multivac's help we'll be able to continue entering new markets and exploring new growth opportunities."

Avomex chose Multivac's MAP system primarily because the machine could parallel with the company's changing needs. The company transitioned from its original M855 rollstock machine to three automatic R230 rollstock systems and is currently benefiting from Multivac's equipment, consulting expertise, and customer service to deliver fresh, high quality, made-to-order packages to customers every day, PD is told.

Private-label demand
Impressed by the quality of the product it received from Avomex, a private-label store brand retailer asked them to develop a new, exclusive product–a thicker, chunkier version of its guacamole. Teaming with technical consultants at Multivac and its film supplier, Winpak, Ltd., Avomex was then able to create an innovative, customized packaging solution for the new product. Multivac quickly redesigned the traditional guacamole pouch with a flat-sealed top by creating a new package with flexible film that conforms to the product. The result transformed Avomex's packaging system to accommodate a customer's specific product and created a new sales channel. The pouches use a high-oxygen barrier film that varies in thickness, from 3 to 7 mils depending on the pouch's size–1-, 2- or 4-lb pouches.

"The R230 is capable of some amazing things in terms of conforming to the specific application we're running," explains Parnell. "However, there are many different processes that have to come together to produce the final product. Due to Multivac's relationship with our film supplier, we were all able to work seamlessly together to produce a flexible packaging presentation that exceeded our retail customer's expectations."

Packaging quality and freshness
Delivering fresh tasting avocado and preservative-free guacamole to every customer presents several packaging challenges. Meeting them requires Avomex to standardize its measurement of oxygen levels and oil content in the product to ensure proper shelf life, taste and effective package sealing. And, since Avomex uses no preservatives, it subjects its packages to an ultra-high-pressure process–the system uses 86,000 psi, after packaging, to eliminate bacteria and pathogens–similar to pasteurization. With the unique pasteurization system, the product is shelf-stable for more than 30 days in a refrigerated case. Avomex found Multivac's rollstock packaging system to be highly effective at generating air-tight vacuum pouches that prevent oxygen contamination, withstand the pasteurization process–sealed pouches in a high-pressure, water vessel–and provide the superior level of seal integrity required to keep packages sealed.

"Our customers have been consistently pleased with the integrity and presentation of the packages we deliver," adds Parnell. "The packages are clean and sophisticated, clearly conveying the freshness of the product inside."

Production, customization and reliability
In a business that relies on packaging fresh-cut product on a made-to-order basis every day, seamless production with little or no downtime is essential. Avomex achieves this level of reliability by working with Multivac to tailor the R230 rollstock with web widths and repeat sizes that are very specific to its application. As business grew, Avomex met its increasing capacity needs quickly and easily by acquiring additional, pre-customized R230s. The acquisition of a fourth machine is planned for the near future.

"We need to keep our plant running 24 hours a day, six days a week," explains Parnell. "The Multivac R230 is the ideal machine for our needs, and duplicating its capabilities throughout our plant has given us optimum flexibility and minimized our downtime. Multivac gives us the ability to keep running virtually non-stop, which is critical to our business." Avomex typically produces a minimum of 250 cases of product per hour per Multivac machine.

Production efficiency is enhanced by the ease of product changeover, which enables Avomex to shift quickly between its two most common applications–1-lb pouches of guacamole for its retail customers, and the 2- and 4-lb pouches preferred by its foodservice customers.

Material waste, a common and costly problem for many food packagers, is not a concern for Avomex. "Multivac gives us optimum efficiency in film usage. Production is very consistent," explains Parnell.

In addition to the reliability and consistency of its equipment, the availability of next-day parts shipments and personalized technical service help to ensure uninterrupted production. The value Avomex receives from its highly-managed packaging operations becomes value it can pass on to its customers, in the form of fresh, quality products that are delivered on-time and priced competitively, PD is informed.

"We measure value in part based on the quality and run-time of the equipment, the ability to procure parts quickly and easily, and the availability of personalized service," says Parnell. Multivac has consistently provided us with all of these benefits. We've always been confident that we're getting the best value around."

More information is available:

Rollstock machines: Multivac, Inc., 800/800-8552. Circle No. 229.

High-barrier film: Winpak, Ltd., 204/889-1015. Circle No. 230.

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