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Improved vacuum skin packaging targets food in trays

Improved vacuum skin packaging targets food in trays
A “Darfresh on Tray” package on display in the Sealed Air Cryovac Food Packaging booth at Pack Expo 2014 last week.

Darfresh vacuum skin packaging has been refreshed by Sealed Air Cryovac Food Packaging with “Darfresh on Tray” packaging. Although Darfresh technology has been around for many years, this new and improved version launched at Pack Expo eliminates film scrap, is done at higher rates, provides a more even, tighter vacuum fit—and has applications in the U.S.

The Darfresh on Tray system is said to deliver enhanced operational efficiency and sustainability for processors while expanding merchandising and waste reduction capabilities for retailers in the case-ready arena. The packaging offers literal transparency using clear film and clear, preformed trays that offer easy opening.

Unlike the former Darfresh system that required cutting of excess film around the flange, each package is sealed using only the necessary amount of film, reducing film waste costs and improving efficiency. This process results in a compact package is produced with 40% less material than what other available tray-skin offerings require, Sealed Air claims.

The packaging is done in a strategic alliance using Harpak-ULMA’s Mondini Trave tray-sealing technology. Mondini’s vp Jim Ryan calls the system a “high-cycle process of 8.5 cycles/min,” which is about twice that of the previous generation Darfresh system (for an example of that, see this case study for Fieldale Farms, a Georgia-based poultry processor, from two years ago; there is also this report on FPA winners from 2003 that includes a Darfresh application by Smithfield Foods, Smithfield, VA). Output is in the range of up to 80-85 trays per minute, depending on the tray-sealing machinery.

The trays are design with access for vacuum packaging in each of the four tray corners that are subsequently covered by the draping skin film during packaging and then sealed. This method also yields more evenly evacuated packaging compared with the single vacuum port evacuation that characterized the previous generation Darfresh technology.

“Our Mondini Platform Technology allows for different formats to be run on the same tray-sealing system, including Darfresh on Tray, MAP packaging and protruding or super-protruding skin packaging," says Ryan.

There are four sizes of trays available now, 9 or 11 inches by 7 inches and 8 or 12 inches by 10 inches, with additional sizes to follow. They can be provided in various depths to accommodate a range of foods and netweights.

Launched in Europe in 2013, the system is expected to be commercial in January 2015 following testing by the first user in the U.S., Beaver Street Fisheries, Jacksonville, FL, for frozen lobster tails.

“As processors and retailers face added pressure to reduce costs, state-of-the-art packaging can serve as a differentiator that delivers value in a crowded meat case,” says Sean Brady, marketing director, ready meals for Sealed Air North America Food Care Division.

For more information, visit Sealed Air Cryovac Food Packaging.

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