5 ways your shrink bags could be costing too much

Ryan Till

September 22, 2015

4 Min Read
5 ways your shrink bags could be costing too much
Does your shrink bag slow down the production line or fail when it comes to sales appeal?

It is critical for food processors to ensure shrink bags that package food provide optimum shelf life, boost visual appeal on retail store shelves and increase yields on the production line. If shrink bags don’t meet these requirements, it’s time to take a look at your process and the packaging being used.

Here are five common indications your food shrink bags and process may be hurting your bottom line.

1. The production line is in slow motion. Simply put, increased downtime equals decreased yields. If a laminated patch bag is used to package bone-in proteins, chances are time and labor are being wasted on the production line. From diligently positioning the shrink bag so the laminated patch is covering the bone, to ensuring it’s sealed on vacuum chamber equipment correctly, old patch technology may be slowing the production line and hurting profits.

Solution: Use shrink packaging that can multi-task, like patchless shrink bags. Bone guard shrink bags with new, multilayer coextruded technologies load faster on a production line than traditional laminated patch shrink bags (since the positioning and sealing of the patch on the bag doesn’t need to be manually managed). Edge-to-edge protection means less manual labor is needed to ensure the product makes it down the production line correctly, resulting in a more efficient process.

2. Product is stuck on the shelves. Everyone knows that consumers place significant emphasis on a food’s appearance when in a grocery store. In the wrong packaging, even the best-tasting products can look unappetizing. If products remain on grocery shelves rather than making their way into consumers’ carts, consider evaluating the product’s packaging. If the shrink bag is making the product look unappealing because of unsightly discoloration, poor clarity or a loose fit, the product has lost its attractive edge, which will negatively impact profits.

Solution: Consider how and where each product will be displayed before selecting shrink packaging. If a product is being displayed in a case with harsh bulbs, for example, be sure the shrink bag has UV-resistant capabilities to prevent discoloration.  Show off the beauty of the product with a high-quality film that contains a high shrink rate. This will offer better clarity of the product as well as a tighter, more form-fitting package with less dog ears.

Additionally, consider how long the product will be on the shelf. The superior oxygen and moisture barrier properties of high-quality shrink film will extend shelf life.

3. Product loses yield after packaging. The water-holding capacity of a protein can have an enormous impact on a processor’s profitability, affecting not only the quality of the end product but also the yield. If the yield-per-piece is down due to purge loss, you may be leaving dollars on the slicing table.   

Solution:Enhance a product’s natural water-holding capacity with a shrink bag that has a high shrink rate. A shrink bag with a high rate of shrink acts like a secondary skin to a protein, helping to keep moisture inside the product and improving not only the yield but also the overall quality of the protein.

4. Product leaker rate is higher than normal. Leaking packaging, whether at the processing plant or in a grocery store, means lost money. If your leaker rate has suddenly spiked, it’s critical to identify the cause before profits leak out too.

Solution: Examine the entire processing workflow and product variables to correctly pinpoint the cause of failures. For example, has the product changed in size or shape recently? Incorrectly sized packaging for a given product can negatively impact performance. Is the production equipment in good mechanical condition? Machinery may require periodic adjustments to ensure closures are complete and in the optimal position. Are failures at the seam (closures) or punctures through the bag? If there are punctures through the bag, consider using a more durable, multi-layer shrink bag with better puncture resistance.

5. Packaging is wasted. If packaging isn’t sized properly or consists of a heavier film than necessary for a product, packaging materials are wasted and processors are likely paying more for a bag than what is actually needed.

Solution: Ensure the right size shrink bag is used and that it is being shrunk at a proper temperature. Optimally sizing and maximizing a bag’s shrink rate means less packaging waste and a more visually appealing product.

It is imperative to understand how shrink bags and packaging operations can positively or negatively impact outputs. Food processors that take the time to examine their production practices and identify opportunities to improve will benefit from increased yields, reduced waste and a higher quality final product.


Ryan Till is product manager—packaging materials at Flavorseal and a 13 year veteran of the food packaging industry.

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like