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Flexible packs shift shapes with the times

The 2006 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition, produced by the Flexible Packaging Association (www.flexpack.org), which marks its 50 th year in 2006, proves that flexible packaging has many innovations to offer, with multifunctional attributes in the retail, institutional and industrial markets. This year, judges evaluated an unprecedented 127 packaging entries, with 35 taking 39 honors. The winners include standup bags for chocolate fondue, mayonnaise and coffee and, most notably, a growing list of flex-packs for fresh fruits and vegetables. Performance is critical this year, especially involving the use of new, permeable materials and breathable films. One example is a microperforated pouch that keeps fruit fresh for up to two weeks. "Smart" or active flexible materials are also being combined with rigid packaging to improve how products are presented on the market. One is a thin-film bottle wrap that keeps beverages cold longer. Another rigid/flexible combination includes a vibrant shrink sleeve that secures stacked, glass pasta sauce jars into one sales unit. And there are several shapely, curvy, scalloped and angled pouches designed to lure consumers with a new appearance on store shelves.

The 12 top winners include 11 Gold awards and one Highest Achievement winner, all described here. The Silver Award winners are featured in an exclusive article on our website at www.packagingdigest.com/info/silver. Announced on March 8, during FPA's annual meeting in Naples, FL, the 2006 Flexible Packaging Achievement winners are recognized for outstanding converting and packaging in four categories—packaging excellence, technical innovation, environmental achievement and printing achievement.

Shaped pouch is a hit for sports drink

The Highest Achievement Award went to the pouch for Gleukos Performance Beverages, from Gleukos, Inc. (1). Ampac Flexibles (www.ampaconline.com) a division of Ampac Packaging, produces the custom, 16-oz pouch at facilities it acquired from Kapak Corp. last year.

Winning a Gold award for printing achievement and for packaging excellence, the standup pouch holds the first easily digestible performance drink in a container designed to mold to the body when placed in the pocket of a jacket or athletic apparel. The tall, hourglass shape is easy to hold and drink from. Gleukos wanted a slender, lightweight package that could support its innovative, new product formulation. Further, it wanted graphics to provide a high-tech look.

Ampac had to overcome engineering challenges in order to meet Gleukos' marketing requirements. In order to bring the innovative drink pouch to market, Ampac made the pouch so that it could stand up without assistance, despite its long profile and narrow base. When it came time to mate the fitment to the pouch and work within a tight insertion tolerance, Ampac modified its Hensen Packaging Concept (www.hensen.de) spout inserter to accommodate the fitment and allow for forming of the leak-resistant seal—created by applying a heat source on the two opposite sides of the material/base assembly.

Pumping up the visual wattage are electric-colored graphics on the metallic foil lamination, a proprietary structure, believed to also include polyester, nylon and polyethylene. Gravure-printed in four colors, including black, silver and a shimmering, neon color that corresponds to the beverage flavor, the sporty yet high-tech graphics were designed in-house by Gleukos. Though unique inks were not used, it appears as if they were, thanks to Lamiall solvent-based inks from INX Intl. Ink Co. (www.inxinternational.com), cured by heat; cylinders were etched by Southern Graphic Systems (www.alcoa.com/sgs/). Ampac says it uses an eight-color Toshiba (www.toshiba-machine.co.jp) sectional drive GSN 120 press to reverse-print the pouch on its polyester layer. The three-piece dispensing assembly consists of a PE base fitment with a spout and a silicone valve, topped off by Seaquist Closures' (www.seaquistclosures.com) EZ Turn Cap, a tamper-evident, easy-turn closure that's large enough to prevent choking and accidental swallowing. Another important feature is the Smart Spout™ fitment/valve combination, which facilitates accessing the beverage without spills or leaks.

Not much has changed about Gleukos since PD covered the pouch last year (see PD, Nov. '05, p. 38 or view it online at www.packagingdigest.com/info/gleukos). Our last report mentioned that the hourglass-shaped pouch is being filled by contract packager, Jel Sert Co. (www.jelsert.com), West Chicago, IL. Portland-based Gleukos, Inc. offers the beverage in Lemon and Punch flavors. Additional flavors are forthcoming, the company says.

Standup pouch for 'mayonesa'

The following entries all won Gold awards. One is a standup package available to the Mexican market (2) that protects mayonnaise from spoiling and has easy-opening and reclosing features. The Gold winner in packaging excellence, the Ponle un Chorro de Sabor, McCormickw Mayonesa y Aderezo, or Doy Pack, of mayonnaise, comes in four flavors marketed by McCormick de México and packed by Grupo Herdez S.A. de C.V. through which McCormick has a strategic alliance. Launched in October 2005, the gusseted, standup pouches with dispensing spouts come in 1-kg and 250- and 500-g sizes. Printpack (www.printpack.com) in Queretaro, Mexico, produces the packages, which place the dressings in a larger, flexible format. The move signals a trend whereby many packagers are successfully making a transition to a flexible package from a rigid container. These packs are additions to a rigid-container lineup, bringing an exciting and different format to condiments and dressings available in Mexico.

The spouts control servings and ensure that consumers can squeeze out nearly every last drop of dressing. There are major challenges between packaging mayonnaise in a large pouch versus packaging it in a shelf-stable, single-use, condiment size, especially for a product that has to maintain a nine-month shelf life. "The gauge has to be much heavier for large-volume pouches, where different requirements like drop impact, stiffness and puncture-resistance become important," says Printpack.

"The structure required clean organoleptics, had to be cost-effective and had to have a barrier in order to maintain flavor consistency and shelf life. The products are actually in the dressing category [in Mexican markets]."

The plastic spout, from Menshen Closures (www.menshen.ch) in Mexico, makes it easy to reclose and return the pouch to the refrigerator.

The large surface panel accepts impactful, colorful graphics that enhance brand identity. McCormick de México's website indicates that the company will soon introduce a version of the pouch for yellow mustard.

Little is known about the specific structure of the pouch. Printpack U.S. describes the pouchstock as having an overall thickness of 6 mils. The film is a multilayer barrier lamination that incorporates polyester and a proprietary Printpack coextrusion, according to the converter. The Printpack plant in Mexico produces it on rolls for forming, filling and sealing on a proprietary, horizontal pouch machine. Flexo printing is in eight colors.

Heat-and-eat fondue

A hot, new chocolate fondue pouch for Cacao Noel Fondue au Chocolat (3), marketed by Paris Gourmet, Carlstadt, NJ, won LPS Industries (www.lpsind.com) a Gold award in packaging excellence for its point-of-sale appeal. The standup, reclosable, zippered structure presents mouth-watering graphics on the outside, while the inside holds three disk-shaped pieces of melting chocolate that stay fresh in the pouch for up to a year. While other fondue kits are packaged in paperboard cartons, this heat-and-eat product stands out in glossy, bright-red film.

The barrier pouch material is a polyester/polyethylene terephthlate (PET) construction about 4.5 mils thick that LPS adhesive-laminates, prints and converts into standup pouches using existing equipment. Reverse-printing of the polyester layer is in four process colors plus two spot colors on a Uteco (www.uteco.com) flexo press. LPS also extrudes the handy, Top-Loc® plastic zipper profile to the top of the pouch and applies the zipper during the pouchmaking process. LPS can produce such pouches in small production run volumes, which it says gives an advantage to packagers that need small volumes or that want to conduct pilot or test runs .

Microwave-heated or boiled in water, the chocolate may be served right from the pouch, or it can be poured into a serving bowl. A simple but artistic graphic design features a strawberry being dipped into a bowlful of delicious, melted chocolate on the bright-red background—all that's necessary to promise a gourmet taste—a chocolate lover's dream.

With dimensions of 737 in., the pouch has a 1-in. header and a 21/2-in. bottom gusset and holds 10 oz of product. Microwaving the package for one minute melts the contents. After cooling for another minute, the chocolate is ready to serve. There's no mixing or other extensive preparation.

Mesh-like pouch keeps 'fast-fruit' fresh

Flexible packages so often cater to the needs of the fast-food industry. McDonald's is no exception. Its Apple Dippers (4) fresh-cut, peeled apples are packaged in a clear, printed pouch that incorporates microperforation technology to keep produce fresh, crisp and sweet, without browning, for up to two weeks—an accomplishment, considering that sliced apples usually begin to oxidize and lose freshness within moments of being cut. Printpack took a Gold award this time for technical innovation, for the portioned, sealed pouch it makes using Freshgard technology. The ready-to-eat apples are now part of McDonald's Happy Meals program, and can be purchased à la carte off of the Dollar Menu.

"Apple Dippers supports our efforts around our balanced and active lifestyle initiatives," says Mark Lepine, director of menu innovation and development at Oak Brook, IL-based McDonald's Corp.

The single-serve, 2.4-oz pack allows the apples to breathe, or respire, protecting their freshness for an amazing 10 to 14 days. The multilayer film consists of an outer layer of oriented polypropylene and Printpack's own sealant films under the PerformX brand, which it says offers a unique combination of oxygen transmission rate (OTR), clarity, seal strength and a broad sealing window. PerformX structures are roughly 2 mils thick. The PerformX film in this case is specially designed for fresh-cut produce applications.

Says Printpack's Mark Frascarelli, "The laminated, microperforated film allows users to 'dial in' specific oxygen- and vapor-transmission rates to enhance shelf life of fresh-cut produce. That's key to the technology for fresh produce, and makes Apple Dippers unique on the market. We accomplish this by combining an internally produced PerformX sealant film with lamination capabilities. For applications that need even more OTR transmission than films alone can deliver, we promote the use of microperforation technology."

The Freshgard family of breathable laminations and unsupported films for fresh-cut produce includes both adhesive- and extrusion laminations that are designed to accommodate the different varieties of apples McDonald's can use. Further protecting the fresh flavor and color, the peeled apple slices are dipped in a Vitamin C/calcium solution prior to packaging.

"In some cases, because of the oxygen-transmission-rate requirements, we also use Freshgard Plus microperforation capabilities to increase the OTR of the structure," Frascarelli adds. "Freshgard is Printpack's brand of breathable laminations and films that are not microperforated, and Freshgard Plus is the brand of structures that are microperforated."

The bold, vibrantly printed graphics of Ronald McDonald on a green background are flexo-printed in eight colors at Printpack's Prescott Valley, AZ, facility.

A peelable, easy-to-open seal adds to the kid-friendly appeal. The proprietary package structure presented a number of challenges, but the breathable laser microperforations help achieve the variable respiration needs for the many apple varieties that could be contained in the pouch. "As far as we know, this is the first bag of its kind in the fast-food-chain market," Lepine points out.

"Perception is key," he adds. "We get a lot of questions why our apples in the Apple Dippers don't turn brown. We looked at modified atmosphere and several other options before deciding on this film."

With the growth of the fresh produce market, Lepine says the package provides several options for perishable fruit and other vulnerable products. "From McDonald's perspective, we love the visual of this film," he says. "It prints exceptionally well and has a nice sheen that improves overall appearance."

The microperforated lamination is supplied as rollstock, formed on various form/fill machines in place in at least six different McDonald's plants, Lepine adds.

"We had a prior history with this type of film and use it for another perishable product item delivered to the 'back-of-the-house' of our restaurants," he points out. "For Apple Dippers, the work began during the spring of 2003, with qualitative research sessions."

The first printed film test hit McDonald's restaurants in Altoona, PA, Chicago and Yakima, WA, in 2003. A national launch began in Spring, 2004.

Fresh-veggie pack self-vents in the microwave

The Cryovac Food Packaging Division of Sealed Air Corp. (www.sealedair.com) has developed its Simple Stepse packaging for produce (5). Suitable for retail applications, foodservice or possibly use in vending machines, the new microwavable vacuum-skin-pack for vegetables won a Gold award in technical innovation. Designed to steam and cook fresh or frozen vegetables in two minutes or less, the package is considered a breakthrough in technology. What's notable is its marriage of a highly permeable material—which needs no perforations—a self-venting ability and the use of a microwavable tray in a vacuum-skin format. The vacuumizing of the lidding conforms to the contours of the product, improving presentation and merchandising appeal and extending shelf life to as much as 14 days.

A first in the marketplace for fresh produce, Simple Steps for Produce is being used with difficult-to-package vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, green beans and broccoli. Canada's Sun Valley Foods uses it for vegetables merchandised in paperboard cartons. Based in Kelowna, BC, Sun Valley sells broccoli, a vegetable medley, cut carrots and sliced zucchini in the tray-pack under the Smith's brand for $3.49 to $3.99 Canadian. The refrigerated shelf life for the Smith's brand of products is 12 days.

The pack gives the veggies a three-dimensional look and helps extend their shelf life via "atmospheric modification," which prolongs the organoleptic qualities of the product.

Available for single or multiple product servings, the tray-pack originates with the Simple Steps technology that Cryovac commercialized in 2003 for heat-and-serve tray-packs of precooked entrées. Those include products marketed by Smithfield Packaging (see PD, March '03, p. 34 and Sept. '03, p. 48), which won awards from the FPA and from DuPont at that time.

In development for about a year, the variation for produce uses a similar tray as the earlier technology but has a different, more suitable lidding film. Like the entrée version, the produce pack gives hurried consumers convenience in an easy-open tray that allows vegetables to be prepared, and subsequently steamed, in three steps: Place the package in the microwave; cook for two minutes; peel open the package and serve. The film lidding "tents up" as the product heats and self-vents and relaxes over the food.

The self-venting feature requires no piercing or peeling of the film prior to cooking and no knife or scissors to open the package once the veggies are cooked. Stay-cool side handles also make it safe for consumers to remove the tray from the microwave. The vegetables can be served or eaten directly from the tray.

The package's hermetic-sealing technologies and highly permeable lid material for fresh produce allow for what the company calls "a passive modification of the package atmosphere." This eliminates the need for gas flushing to extend shelf life of the food by lowering the respiration and transpiration rates.

Myra Foster, manager of new business development at Cryovac, explains, "With passive modification, the headspace around a product isn't actively being changed, as it is during gas flushing. Instead, its relies on the respiration rate of the product married to the oxygen-transmission rate of the material, to, over time, generate a certain change in the headspace atmosphere. The actual shelf life varies by the product, but is generally several days longer than fresh produce in other types of packaging."

Efficient for processors and home cooks alike, the vacuum-skin format includes materials that generate fairly high oxygen-transmission rates, adds Foster. "It's a matter of using the right resins and coextruding them in a way that's amenable to seal to the tray, and those traits translate into a material with high oxygen and carbon-dioxide permeability." She says the material introduced has an oxygen transmission rate ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 cc/mm2/24/ hr.

The 3-mil, multilayer polyolefin lidding seals to a rigid, microwavable, barrier tray thermoformed of PP and ethylene vinyl alcohol by Mullinix Packages (www.mullinixpackages.com) and laminated with an easy-open, multilayer, coex sealant. When vacuumized to the tray, the permeable coex lidding film, with a compatible polymeric sealant of its own, helps minimize the formation of ice crystals inside the tray, eliminating freezer burn.

The tray-pack can be vacuumized on Multivac's (www.multivac.com) T200 tabletop or T350 production vacuum-skin rollstock machinery, explains Foster. "There were some modifications made to allow these machines to work with skin packaging," she says. "As the product respires or consumes oxygen and generates carbon dioxide, the permeable nature of the film supplies enough atmospheric oxygen to the inside of the package, and that's how we achieve the long shelf life."

Cryovac has successfully packaged various types of produce in the packaging, from including Sun Valley's assorted offerings. Foster adds that the packaging can also be used for frozen vegetables, as it can withstand freezing temperatures to microwave heating temperatures up to 212 deg F.

Glitzy packs perk for coffee

The coffee aisle is being overstuffed with new introductions, exotic flavors and beautiful packaging, which prompted Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, ON, to go one step further with its new, luxurious rendition of the President's Choice coffee pack. Converted by Genpak LP (www.progressivepac.com), the unusual, vacuumized valve bag (6) won Gold for printing achievement.

Canada's largest food distributor, with operations across the country, Loblaws introduced the pouches in the fall of 2005. Notes Bill Reilly, development manager at Genpak, "Loblaws approached us with the design that was printed on cans at the time. We all knew that we would be able to deliver the kind of impactful packaging that would jump off store shelves.

"The designers are enthused with the superior packaging; the purchaser is satisfied with the minimum costs in the product launch. We print the rollstock for all of the stockkeeping units side-by-side, and the printing manager is delighted with the great output achieved while producing less waste. It's a win-win situation."

The 250-g standup valve bag for fragrant Costa Rican coffee features a rolldown opening that can be secured with a clip wrapped around the bag.

Costa Rican coffee is just one in a series of Loblaw's beautifully printed bag motifs presenting artistic, tropical or sophisticated graphic designs. The coffee flavors include French Vanilla, Chocolate Swiss Almond, Flavored Decaffeinated Vanilla Hazelnut, fine-ground Columbian Supremo, Irish Crème and Hazelnut Crème.

Genpak produces the rollstock for the bag at its plant in Aurora, ON. The three-ply adhesive/extrusion lamination consists of polyester/PE/foil, reverse-printed in eight colors on a 10-color Fischer+Krecke (www.fischer-krecke.biz/) flexo press at speeds of 300 m/min. The Costa Rican coffee's eye-catching, painterly graphics depict a green and yellow parrot on a rich, gradating, green-to-black background. The lush and eye-popping design is courtesy of Opaltonew digital separation software from Opaltone, Inc. (www.opaltone.com). Genpak says the software allows it to print 12 different coffee variety designs side-by-side, using the same eight colors. Reilly notes that Opaltone overcomes saturation deficiencies in cyan/magenta/yellow inks, producing greater optical contrasts and richer, brighter color appearances.

"Running jobs back-to-back using Opaltone, we eliminate ink washups and color matching, which saves time," he says. "When we wash up color, we can also create a certain amount of ink and solvent waste, which can be detrimental to the environment. Opaltone eliminates washups and is more environmentally friendly. It can reduce the material used to set up the press and reduces ink usage and waste by up to thirty percent, depending on the job."

Marks & Spencer savors saucy retort pouch

Looking good enough to eat, the graphics displayed on standup pouches for a line of shelf-stable sauces from Marks & Spencer (7), a U.K.-based retailer with more than 400 stores throughout the U.K. and 150 stores worldwide, won CLP Industries Ltd./CLP Packaging Solutions (www.clppackagingsolutions.com) a Gold award in printing achievement. The structure is also durable and has the barriers to withstand the demands of the retort process, which keeps the delicate sauces fresh for an incredible 12 months.

Marks & Spencer demanded luxury and high performance when it asked CLP to create an adhesive-laminated standup pouch for the sauces in time for the 2005 holiday season. CLP says the dwell time in the retort chamber is short, which prevents the flavors from developing an overcooked taste that could compromise a delicate vanilla sauce or a well-balanced gravy. "Retorting the same products in jars could conceivably also overcook the sauces," CLP reports.

A shiny, nonfoil laminate was chosen for four sauces in the line, which include Turkey Gravy, Cranberries in Ruby Port Sauce, Blueberry Dessert Sauce and Vanilla Custard, because the nonfoil structure can be heated in a microwave oven. Converted in Israel using polyester films from India's Polyplex Corp. Ltd., (www.polyplex.com), PE from Plastosak Ltd. of Israel and adhesives from Rohm & Haas (www.rohmhaas.com), the 250-g, preformed, standup pouch consists of (from the outside) PET/high-barrier PET/biaxially oriented nylon/cast PP (CPP). The total thickness is 100 microns (almost 4 mils). CLP prints, laminates and converts the pouches on a high-performance line equipped with a Cerutti (www.cerutti.it) gravure press and a Rotomec solvent-based laminator (Rotomec S.p.A. is part of the Bobst Group [www.bobstgroup.com]).

The white CPP gives the laminated pouch structural integrity and a rich, esthetic background for printing. The PET helps protect the delicate flavors of the sauces and adds structural strength, and the white CPP layer also eliminates the need to lay down a broad, opaque white ink. The CPP also improves the look of the pouch, simplifies printing and offers the benefit of a strong sealing layer, CLP says. Metallic silver highlights underscore the brand image of richness that Marks & Spencer works hard at maintaining and acts as a base to boost the additional colors.

To prevent scratches, CLP does a precision job of reverse-printing the outer PET layer in eight colors using conventional inks (from Siegwerk Druckfarben AG [www.siegwerk.de] of Germany), including metallic inks that highlight and underscore the graphic elements. Designed in-house, the full-bleed graphics include rich, luminous elements that communicate elegance on the face panels. The color scheme of deep and light blue, metallic silver and cool whites dominates the graphics for the Vanilla Custard sauce. CLP makes the pouches on Totani (www.totaniamerica.com) equipment.

The pouch's height provides extra eye appeal, as well as plenty of space on the back panel for heating instructions and nutritional labeling.

According to Marks & Spencer, the pouch also has a larger shelf presence than the rigid jar it replaces, while the luminous graphics and superb print quality augment the performance of the PET laminate in protecting the delicate flavors of the contents. The products are copacked in Scotland by Baxter, which fills and seals them on a line from Japan's Toyo Jidoki Co. Ltd. (www.tyj.co.jp).

Sleeve label keeps beer from losing its cool

A specially engineered, insulative sleeve label (8) from DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers (www.dupont.com) won both a Gold in technical innovation and a Silver Award in packaging excellence. Adopted by Labatt Brewing Co. for 473-mL cans of Labatt Blue Pilsener, the Cool2gow wrap or coating protects the beer from heat transferred from warm hands, condensation and cold temperatures. Cool2go began appearing on the Labatt Blue Cold Onee in Canadian markets in May 2005 (see PD Aug. '05, p. 6). It keeps drinks cold and stays put on the can or bottle.

DuPont says the Cool2go wrap is made by placing a polymer insulation between two layers of its Teijin Films'e Melinexw film, which results in a thermal barrier. DuPont says that once the beer is chilled, the wrap keeps the beer cold for up to 30 min longer than if the can were not wrapped. Cool2go can be used with or without a shrink-sleeve label applied over it. In Labatt's case, a shrink-sleeve label is used and is gravure-printed in a striking blue, red, white and silver color scheme, which represents the well-established Labatt brand, highlighted by silver inks. Multi-Color (www.multicolorcorp.com) converts the shrink sleeve used in conjunction with the wrap at its facility in Scottsburg, IN.

The prepress work, including separations and cylinder engraving, was performed at Multi-Color's Graphics Services facility in Erlanger, KY. A patented process produces the thin, thermal barrier that locks in coldness. The labels are printed using DuPont Cyrelw NOW plates. The combination of wrap and sleeve label is applied by a custom shrink system at Alliance Labeling (www.alliancelabeling.com) in Oakville, ON. The cans come in a six-pack carrier in the same color scheme, printed using Cyrel plates.

Considered a smart package, the enhancement provides high performance without adding bulk and provides quality graphics found with conventional labels at pennies per package. Cans labeled with it can be recycled by major aluminum producers, and there's no energy penalty in cooling a can insulated with the sleeve label. DuPont's Susan Procaccini, venture manager of insulated packaging, says that Cool2go also appears on cans of beer copacked in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for Skol's Skol Geladona brand. Look for additional introductions this spring.

Totable bag breaks the ice

An eye-catching, angular pillow-bag with an angle cut on both sides and an integral, die-cut carrying handle, is helping to launch Day Saver Ice Enemy, a granular, concentrated ice-melter product from DampRid, Inc., Orlando (9). Convenience played a major role in the development of this package. As easy to handle as a rigid container, the zippered bag is lightweight and allows users to spread the product without additional tools or spreading devices.

Produced by Flex Pack USA, Inc. (www.flexpackusa.com), the marketing branch of film converter Nina Plastic Bags (www.ninaplastics.com), the package won Gold in packaging excellence for its ability to easily distribute a product in a heavy-weight size in a small- to medium-size area without additional equipment, preparation tools or special training.

Flex Pack began working with DampRid last fall on the project. The custom bag holds 9 lb of product and measures 13314.7 in. Converted in a single pass by Nina, the bagstock is made with an outer layer of 1-micron (almost 50-ga) PET from Mitsubishi (www.m-petfilm.com ), reverse-printed by flexo in eight colors on a Windmoeller & Hoelscher (www.whcorp.com) Novoflexw eight-color press. Showcasing the product in a deep blue-on-blue color scheme, the graphics, created by Lam Design (www.lamdesign.com), illustrate product usage and its benefits.

The PET layer is adhesive-laminated to a three-layer, 150-micron (almost 6 mils) linear-low-density PE coex blend that Nina makes in-house. Nina applies the LDPE zipper in-line. Technipac, Inc. (www.technipacinc.com) produces the bags on equipment from Totani.

Once the top of the bag is opened by accessing a tear notch on one side, the bag's Presto Products (www.prestoproducts.com) press-to-close zipper can be used to close the bag for storage and later use. The bag opens to reveal a clear, 150-micron LDPE membrane inserted in the top that's die-punched with tiny 1/4-in. holes spaced 1/2-in. apart, through which the product releases when the bag is shaken. The membrane functions like a sieve when the bag is flipped over. The force of the product opens the membrane, which distributes the ice melter when the bag is gently shaken. The bag also resists moisture and helps to extend the shelf life of the product with its durable, barrier construction.

Barilla stacks jars in its favor

Italy's Pasta Barilla, considered a world leader in pasta production, unveiled its Restaurant Creations sauces to the U.S. in a twin-pack of two, stacked glass jars (10) bundled in a PETG shrink sleeve. The sleeve is reverse-printed in eight colors by Alcoa Flexible Packaging (www.alcoa.com/flexiblepackaging). Barilla touts the sauces as restaurant quality, each prepared separately to allow its fresh ingredients to maintain integrity and flavor (also see PD, Sept. '04, p. 4). Shape is a factor with this winner, too. A neat way to offer two different sized jars in one, the 50-micron shrink sleeve unitizes them in an eye-catching, hourglass shape that stands out from the rest on store shelves.

Winning a Gold in packaging excellence, Restaurant Creations separates the sauces until preparation, to provide a smooth, subtle taste. The dual-jar pairing needs no other packaging and may be the first of its kind available in the U.S.

The sauces go beyond conventional red sauces to reflect authentic Italian sauce usage with a blend of flavors that highlights key ingredients.

The sauces include a "chef's recipe" in the top jar, and a base sauce in the bottom jar, made of tomatoes and imported olive oil. The contents of both jars can be mixed with 1 lb of pasta for a tasty meal.

The perforated PETG sleeve covering the body of both jars, affording tamper-evidence and easy removal, is heat-sealed to the containers using a steam tunnel. When Barilla brought the original labels to the U.S., Alcoa and its cylinder supplier Southern Graphics Systems (a part of Alcoa) improved the graphics with a brighter look and sharper vignettes. An "anti-wet" overcoat eliminates air bubbles between the label and the jar. Alcoa prints the label graphics on a Rotomec press.

Restaurant Creations in the 17-oz package is available in metro New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford/New Haven and Chicago in three varieties.

Judy Glass, manager of product development at Barilla America, Inc., Bannockburn, IL, says the company plans to move the brand into more markets with new varieties. "Our goal was to develop a pasta sauce that retains the integrity and fresh flavor of each of the ingredients, like a fresh, new recipe," says Glass.

Veggies steam in venting pack

The Food and Drug Administration calls fresh-cut produce "the fastest growing sector of the fresh produce industry." It's no wonder that Amcor Flexibles (www.amcor-flexibles.com) developed a self-venting pouch (11) that can steam such veggies evenly in a microwave oven. Winning two Gold awards—for packaging excellence and technical innovation—SelfVent delivers an evenly cooked product that needs no additional preparation. A patented, controlled microperforated material and food-science process advances merge in what Amcor calls fresh-produce modified atmosphere.

Pouchstock is an 82-micron (3.2-mil) laminate that combines two-ply and three-ply laminates together with an outer layer of PET, for excellent stiffness, clarity and temperature-resistance. A CPP layer adds durability and seal integrity. The gusset incorporates a three-ply laminate of PET/oriented nylon/CPP that reinforces the pack. The CPP material, the lamination and the P-Plus modified atmosphere technology come together with what Amcor's development manager Peter Ettridge says is a unique pouchmaking process.

"These fresh vegetable packs don't respond well to gas flushing, so we developed Amcor P-Plus modified atmosphere, microperforation technology to improve product quality and to extend the shelf life of fresh-cut produce," he says. "We match the permeability of the pack to the respiration of the produce and maintain an aerobic, modified atmosphere."

Prepared vegetable mixes usually achieve a shelf life of seven to 10 days in the P-Plus MAP package, depending on the produce, he adds.

Flexo-printed on a Fischer+Krecke 16S gearless press, the pouch is gravure-pattern-coated with an antifog coating on the inside. Whitrose uses the pouch for ready-to-steam, fresh vegetables, as is Tesco for the EasySteam vegetable line.

Five Amcor sites are involved in developing the SelfVent pouch, including AF Winterbourne in the U.K., which provided bespoke, peelable CPP that AF's Colodense facility laminates to PET. The P-Plus MAP technology was applied at AF Ledbury, where the pouches were flexo-printed and pattern-coated with an antifog material. A three-ply laminate for the gusset is from AF Schupbach in Switzerland. Converting takes place at AF EuroPouch in Denmark.

Space saver makes a compression

The Compression Pack for Cryovac's Dri-Locw Pads (12) won the final Gold award, which is for environmental achievement. Made by the Cryovac Food Packaging Div. of Sealed Air Corp., the absorbent Dri-Loc pads are compression-packed in two-color-printed PE film and are overwrapped in a clear PE dust cover to create a tight, compact bundle.

The space-saving packaging can reduce cube volume by up to 40 percent, says Cryovac. PD hears it can also improve storage and freight efficiency and lowers solid waste weight by about 80 percent.

With an easy-open prescored pad-dispensing feature, the economical , caseless package holds the same number of pads as similarly sized corrugated case, Cryovac says. After the wrap is removed, the compressed bags can be carried into a processing area without dusting. Bunzl (www.bunzldistribution.com) will be distributing the product for Sealed Air.


More information is available:
Flexible Packaging Association, 410/694-0800. www.flexpack.org.
Amcor Flexibles, 44 1452 634100. www.amcor-flexibles.com..
Ampac Flexible Div., Ampac Packaging, 513/671-1777. www.ampaconline.com.
Alcoa Flexible Packaging, 804/281-2395. www.alcoa.com/flexiblepackaging.
CLP Industries Ltd., 973/808-4441. www.clppackagingsolutions.com.
Cryovac Food Packaging Div., Sealed Air Corp., 864/433-2000. www.sealedair.com.
DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers, 800/438-7225. www.dupont.com.
Flex Pack USA, Inc., 407/857-2883. www.flexpackusa.com.
Genpak LP, 905/727-0121. www.progressivepac.com.
LPS Industries, 800/275-6577. lpsind.com.
Printpack, Inc., 404/691-5830. www.printpack.com.
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