Out of the Can & into the Paper Box

Tetra Pak’s new Tetra Recart trial facility lets food brands learn if their paper-based packaging system is a smarter alternative to the traditional metal can.

Joanna Cosgrove, Freelance Writer

June 12, 2024

4 Min Read
Package Family - new Tetra Recart facility now open
Tetra Pak

At a Glance

  • The 1st North American Tetra Recart facility lets brands test the viability of switching from cans to paper packaging
  • VP Javier Quel addresses the ROI and sustainability of paper vs. cans
  • U. of Georga's FoodPIC and NaturPak provide a base for further paper packaging adoption

Cans have been long-time packaging mainstays since their introduction, with a proven track record for flavor and nutrient preservation, shelf stability, and recyclability. In recent years, the paper-based Tetra Recart packaging system from Tetra Pak has proven to be a viable, protective alternative with similarly reliable retort capabilities for processing and sterilization. With the increased penchant for eco-friendly packaging options, the company has opened its first Tetra Recart facility in North America for brands to discover how this package is poised to support their food products.

Working in partnership with the University of Georgia College (UGA) of Agricultural and Environmental Science, the Tetra Recart trial facility, located at UGA’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) in Griffin, GA, offers food companies concept-to-shelf testing on products like beans, fruits, pet foods, and sauces that have been traditionally packaged in cans.

Brands can test drive shelf stability, ensure food safety, optimize product formulation with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and take advantage of additional Food PIC resource alliances. These alliances can help with formulation, prototyping, and market launches.

“Our FoodPIC facility provides the tools and resources needed to create efficiencies and accelerate the development of foods for our clients,” says Dr. James Grazek, FoodPIC director. “We focus on expertise and technology that facilitate a faster time to market, ultimately benefiting the food company, local economy, and public at large.”

Q&A addresses brand adoption & ROI

The new facility represents an excellent opportunity for brands to get a firsthand experience with how Tetra Recart compares to traditional cans. To illuminate some potential barriers to adoption and how Tetra Recart is poised to overcome them, Javier Quel, VP of Tetra Recart's business sector, spoke with Packaging Digest.

How does Tetra Recart fit into the recyclable/eco-friendly packaging landscape?

Quel: In an industry driven by evolving challenges, market demands, and shifting consumer trends, Tetra Recart stands out by offering multiple significant value points to producers. While recycling remains a crucial component of the sustainability value chain, it represents only a small fraction of the entire packaging life cycle. Tetra Recart addresses this by providing a solution with a markedly lower environmental impact. According to Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) studies, Tetra Recart has an 85% smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional metal cans due to the high share of renewable material and high efficiency in distribution.

How can brands reconcile the investment in Tetra Recart, given the rising cost of paper and the fact that metal food cans already have a healthy recycling rate?

Quel: The canning industry has recently faced significant supply chain disruptions, resulting in dramatic increases in metal can prices. This has put additional pressure on producers to seek more reliable and cost-effective alternatives. Tetra Recart meets this demand by optimizing its supply chain, ensuring a steady and competitive provision of carton packaging for canned food. Furthermore, Tetra Recart offers a compelling financial advantage. Producers can adopt the Tetra Recart system with competitive pricing, avoiding the substantial investment costs typically associated with traditional metal canning. This makes Tetra Recart not only a sustainable choice but also a financially prudent one, aligning with the growing demand for efficient and eco-friendly packaging solutions.

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FoodPIC is located in Georgia and there’s at least one Tetra Recart US-based contract packager (NaturPak Pet) in Wisconsin. How will the locations of this testing facility and contract packager address potential customers?

Quel: Collaboration with FoodPIC’s Georgia and long-standing partnership with NaturPak provide a strong base for Tetra Recart development in the US in the canned food industry. The expertise of both partnerships allows for fast-track innovations in Tetra Recart, reaching retail and consumers in a short time, and supporting food producers with new product development in their production facilities, with experts. With facilities in both the southeastern and midwestern United States, customers from various regions have easier access to Tetra Recart’s services. Ambient food processing allows brands to capture a broad geographical presence and ensure safe food distribution in any location in the US, while at the same time ensuring cost and time savings.  

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About the Author(s)

Joanna Cosgrove

Freelance Writer

Joanna Cosgrove has enjoyed writing about the packaging industry for more than 20 years.

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