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Plastic packs stay steps ahead

Easy-opening and "go, go, go" seem to be the buzz phrases in the Eighteenth annual DuPont Awards (www.dupont.com/packaging/awards) for Innovation in Packaging. The catchwords are underscored by the competition's continental mix of winning packages, including standup barrier film pouches, rigid wide-mouth jars with soft, easy-open lids, easy-tear packets, eye-catching, multilayer barrier cups for baby food with easy-peel lidding and a new actuator for an aerosol hair product that controls dispensing. Entries are evaluated on criteria such as degree of innovation, breadth of the application, impact on industry or consumers, marketing innovation of the packaged product and their impact on buying decisions.

This year's triumphant and eclectic group, announced August 5 at a gala ceremony at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for Performing Arts., hail from countries including France, Spain, India, China, the U.K., Germany and the U.S., exemplifying progressive developments in packaging and food processing from all across the supply chain. Entrants are required to include plastic materials as an essential component. Chosen from 111 entries by an international, eight-member judging panel, the 22 international food and nonfood entries won four Gold awards, 12 Silvers and five Special Citations for their interesting new structures, clever consumer benefits, convenience, expert converting and printing techniques and salesworthy visuals, dynamic graphics and glitzy marketing maneuvers.

DIAMOND AWARD

Among those honored, this year, a single winner was deemed the most innovative by the judging panel and was given the prestigious Diamond Award, granted to the competition's most significant new development. Crown Food Europe (www.crowncork.com), an affiliate of Crown Holdings, Inc., and William Saurin of France won for the Crown Bowl Can with Peel Seam(TM) peelable end for Saurin's variety of "Salades Gourmandes, Salades Soleil" and "Salades Evasion" meat and pasta salads (1). As PD reported last month (see PD, Aug. '05, p. 6 and www.packagingdigest.com/info/crown) and what's key about this unusual, 230- to 250-g (about 10.5-oz), single-serve bowl is that it's retortable and yet has an easy-peel lid. Also remarkable, the container helps keep the William Saurin products shelf-stable for up to three years.

Crown launched the package in Europe in 2004. It produces the bowl/can of a polymer-coated steel, which offers practicality and preservation properties. The lid consists of 99-mm, flexible foil, laminated with polypropylene film on the interior, and lacquered and offset-printed on the exterior before the printed lid is heat-sealed to a steel ring and seamed onto the container.

William Saurin, a leading French ready-meal producer, says it selected Crown's bowl/can for its portability and consumer convenience, critical factors today for meeting the demands of busy consumers with hectic lifestyles who want healthy meals.

The enhanced shelf appeal comes from eye-catching graphics and an eat-in aspect suitable for both the elderly and for children. Optimal food safety is achieved through retort processing, which preserves taste, flavor, color and vitamins. Product quality and freshness are preserved along the entire supply chain, including storage by the consumer until use.

The salads can be eaten directly from the bowl, so consumers can enjoy a tasty meal with a new level of ease. Crown says it expects the container will pave the way for new marketing opportunities in value-added segments such as meat paté, other salads, fish and pet food.

In addition, the bowl/can is 100-percent-recyclable and is able to provide food manufacturers with fast processing capabilities while delivering significant barrier properties. Laetitia Durafour, Crown's marketing manager—Food France & European Vegetable market, reports that about 4 million bowl/cans have been sold in France and the Benelux countries in the package's first year. Extensions to the line will be introduced in 2005 to include 10 products. "The technology improves both the image and convenience level of food cans. Consumers associate a can with a peelable end with products [marketed] in the chilled section [of supermarkets]. "This package is new for William Saurin and it's in a new market segment, in which William Saurin is now the leader."

GOLD AWARDS

Film that tears any way, anywhere

A four-sided, laminated pouch for prophylactics that's easy to tear open in any direction without the need for a tear notch won gold for Alcan Packaging, Medical Flexibles Americas (www.alcan.com) (2). Called TearAnywhere, the pouch was developed by Pechiney Plastic Packaging (www.pechineyplasticpackaging.com), an Alcan company. Made of a multilayer, 100-percent olefin-based film that's easy to open, regardless of the tear location or propagation direction, the TearAnywhere film is described as being cast-coextruded of materials including medium linear-low-density polyethylene, high-density PE and various proprietary materials having a high Tg (glass-transition temperature), such as amorphous polymers. The higher the Tg of a material, the greater its heat-resistance. According to Alcan, that's key in films used for laminations, because low Tg materials can melt if they come in contact with a hot seal bar or a platen.

The base film is considered a technical innovation for its ability to replace cellophane's easy-open format for prophylactic applications, what Alcan's James Sikorsky, R&D engineer for Alcan's Medical Flexibles Americas, says could be a "market-altering development for easy-open packaging." TearAnywhere is an olefin that combines material blends and a cast-extrusion process that offer a highly balanced tear in both the machine direction and in the cross direction.

Alcan says the new pouch structure for prophylactic applications would likely incorporate a lamination of 1-mil TearAnywhere/ink/10# white LDPE and ethylene acrylic acid (EAA)/foil/10# ionomer sealant. Sikorsky notes that this combination offers a barrier to moisture and oxygen (from the foil) and won't become brittle over time or yellow with age. The white LDPE allows the packets to stay white and look fresh and new for extended periods. The ionomer seals at low temperatures and seals through fats and oils and has great hot tack.

Other benefits include substantial ink adhesion, machinability and dimensional stability, so the film holds tight print registration and print repeats and doesn't stretch as much as most cellophanes. A proprietary sealant technology allows packagers to reduce sealing temperatures and dwell times, which can increase production line speeds.

Commercialized in February 2005, the film debuted at the Global Trends in Flexible Packaging Conference, in March in New Orleans. It can also be used to make form/fill/seal pouches and three-side-sealed packets, and has demonstrated the ability to seal to itself at temperatures of 240 deg F and lower.

The cast-coextrusion process orients the film's polymer chains in the machine direction, so the film can be used in pouch applications where even a burst-open feature is needed or even as a dual-chambered pouch, that allows disparate products such as liquids and powders to mix upon use.

While Alcan says it's too early to gauge TearAnywhere' specific potential, the company reports that so far, the market reaction to the film seems to be favorable. Says Sikorsky, "We have many customers who have put this film on stability [testing]. But because it's a new product to the medical market, we don't expect any commercial applications until 2006. This is due to stability protocol [tests that take] 12 months or more."

An economical alternative to cellophane when used in prophylactic packaging applications, TearAnywhere film can be used when a "notchless," easy-open tear feature is desired. Alcan is initially targeting prophylactic producers, ointment/cream sachets packagers and as a sample packet for tablets, as a clear barrier material for single dose antacids.

But the company's Dairy Group is also in the process of qualifying the TearAnywhere film for use in easy-open applications and its Food Group is considering potential applications in a laminate form, as well as in a clear barrier material for several food products. Alcan believes the film's balanced tear properties will alleviate problems with missing tear notches, improper laser-score depths and opening failures. The company says the film could also find a niche in senior-friendly packaging.

The TearAnywhere film and prophylactic pouches made from it can be printed either by gravure, flexography or ink-jet coding processes and can be surface or reverse printed.

Barrier cup 'flowers' for baby food

Baby Foods from Nestlé France S.A.S. and EDV Packaging Solutions (www.edvamerica.com) of Spain (3), come in appealing, high-barrier plastic containers, including one with a flower-petal flange.

Safe, healthy and natural were qualities Nestlé France, Marne La Vallée, considered for its new shelf-stable products entering the French baby food market when it introduced the plastic container there. The challenge was to design an attractive food container that both babies and parents would like, that's microwavable and unbreakable.

EDV thermoforms the 250- and 249-mL cups and coextrudes the five-layer PP/EVOH/PP sheet that incorporates DuPont's Bynel(R) adhesive as a tie layer. EDV says the material has the transparency needed and can withstand the high temperatures of retort pasteurization for more than one hour, ensuring the products' 12-month shelf life. Here again, opening ease is apparent: the cups are sealed with a peelable, multilayer barrier lidding. PD hears that the cups are pasteurized in stacking shoulders and packed on equipment from G. Mondini (available in the U.S. through Harpak (www.harpak.com). The filled, sealed cups are merchandised in twin-packs and in singles in attractively offset-printed, die-cut paperboard sleeves.

Nestlé France, located in Epinal, France chose EDV's PP/EVOH/PP cup structure to give the products added pizzazz, while the EVOH layer lends properties such as extended shelf life while additives to the external PP layer provide barriers to UV rays and prevent static. EDV says the structure is easily formed (by solid-phase pressure and a plug assist system), lightweight, can be shaped in ways that can't easily be achieved with glass or metal containers.

Early on in the project, it was clear that the design of the cups—both round and flower-shaped, depending on the brand—had to attract both babies and their parents, says EDV's Jose Maria Pursals, sales and marketing manager. "The cups had to lend a sensation of naturalness, convey the product's healthy and nutritious attributes, and the idea that such a basic staple as the foods in the Coeur de Saveur line could be contained in as natural an item as a flower."

The base of the cup is round and smooth, while the one for the Coeur de Saveur line is "crowned" with a scalloped design that resembles flower petals. The absence of heavy rims and corners means there are no sharp edges and consumers can "spoon out" all of the contents of the bowls without effort while the petals add support. The resulting, consumer-friendly barrier cups can be heated in the microwave oven. They're also recyclable and impact-resistant.

The convenient, unit-of-use, transparent containers help to differentiate the products on store shelves, but they're also practical and durable. They can be eaten from, so there's no need for extra bowls and they're recyclable and stackable. But best of all, babies like 'em.

Nestlé France launched the products under the Coeur de Saveur and Mon Portager brands into the French market in July 2004, with great success. Early studies confirmed that consumers and category buyers show the same preference to the products packed in glass as to those packed in plastic, according to EDV. Now, they cry for more.

Drink pouch from China

Another gold winner, this one from China's Hangzhou Zhengda Printing & Packaging Co., Ltd. (4), is a novel standup drink pouch with a built-in straw. Made with a film structure incorporating polyethylene terepthalate from DuPont Teijin (www.dupontteijinfilms.com) and PE resins from Dow (www.dow.com), the distinctive pouch design includes a patented, built-in straw that's protected on the inside from contamination and it's easy to use.

Integrating the straw during the pouchforming reduces the number of processing steps required, says Hangzhou Zhengda, so the increased automation reduces production costs. The company reports that while the first application was a soy breakfast milk drink marketed in China, additional developments with other beverage packagers are underway to differentiate this highly visible package in the growing global beverage market.

Soft-sided jars get a grip

Opening new marketing doors in the U.S. is an easy-open, PP jar with a soft-grip lid for O'Keeffe's Co.'s Working Hands and Working Feet skin healing creams (5). The company teamed with Brand Navigation USA (www.brandnavigation.com) to develop a brand and launch a market-driven innovation that has created a new product category in a new channel of distribution. The functional, low-profile jar, in 3.4- (81.25-mm) and 5-oz (102-mm) sizes, is noted for its distinctive, flat design, knockout colors of fluorescent azure blue and lime green and especially for its ergonomic lid with a soft, rubberized grip, created with the aid of a secondary injection-molded component. A quarter turn of the palm-sized, threaded lid is all it takes to quickly and easily open the wide-mouth jar.

Produced in China, the thin-walled, injection-molded jar is distributed by Container & Packaging Supply Inc. (www.containerandpackaging.com) and is induction-sealed with a foil inner seal. The slim design of the package encourages users to carry it with them while they work and emphasizes the lid's easy-opening characteristics. The rubberized lid, which is said to feel like the smooth, rubbery handle of a screwdriver or other tool, features a translucent top surface that gives a view to the foil induction seal within.

This also allows the three-color graphics displayed on the lid's heat-transfer label (also produced in China) to bounce off the induction seal, for a holographic, three-dimensional effect.

Replacing a conventional white cosmetic jar, the next-generation "Grip Pak" container breaks with tradition and zeroes in on male consumers in hardware and homecare DIY centers, "where our customers are more likely to be found," the O'Keeffes say.

The roots of O'Keeffe's Working Hands and Working Feet Crème date back about 25 years to the California-Oregon border region known as the Klamath Basin. Tara O'Keeffe's father ranched in the area and the ranching life took its toll on Bill O'Keeffe's hands and feet. The work and the weather had dried and cracked his skin to the point that he could hardly shake hands or walk without pain.

Bill O'Keeffe's pharmacist daughter, Tara O'Keeffe-Broadbent, now president and public relations spokesperson at the O'Keeffe's Company in Sisters, OR, later developed the glycerin-containing, dry-skin treatment that helps hydrate and repair cracked, damaged skin when almost nothing else will. The product quickly created a booming business that really swelled when the new Grip Pak jar was launched at the 2004 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

"Hand cream hasn't traditionally been sold in the hardware/home-improvement industry," explains Tara O'Keeffe. "With the introduction of this package, we began selling to thousands of stores, including one of the top home improvement chains in the nation. Much of our existing customer base has chosen to replace our original jar with the new Grip Pak. The improved jar actually created a category for this product in hardware and home improvement stores that has resulted in all new business for us and for the retailer."

While the product soothes the hands or feet, the lid helps hands by being so easy to open, and could be adapted to products targeting arthritics, sports enthusiasts and the aging population. It can be displayed in a variety of standup trays, clip-strips, floor displays and gravity-fed wire dispensers without the need for additional packaging. The 3.4- and 5-oz jars are retail priced at $7.99 and $9.99, respectively.

SILVER AWARDS

Puncture-resistant bag bids well for bones

Alcan Packaging also won a silver award in food for the ClearShieldw shrink bag for bone-in meats (6). Designed to inhibit leakers and punctures both in-plant and post-shipment, the bag is available at both the wholesale and retail level for products such as beef and pork ribs, hams and bone-in rib-eye steaks. ClearShield combines barrier technology and a unique coextrusion of polyethylene, polyamide and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), which is oriented in a proprietary process (also see PD, April, '05 p. 30 and www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa052). The combination yields a film with outstanding puncture-resistance, clarity, barrier and ease of use for packaging bone-in meat products.

The result of proprietary coextrusion technology and new polymeric, raw materials from partner suppliers, the packaging resists punctures and breakage of the hermetic seal, which could compromise the safety and the shelf life of the meat. Alcan notes that independent tests indicate that the ClearShield shrink bags have reduced in-plant leaker rates by more than 50 percent versus certain conventional bags with abuse-resistant patches.

Unlike patch bags or wraps that use bone caps, ClearShield packs don't need to be oriented so that a patch or film lamination layer covers the bone protruding from the meat.

Scored turkey bag with handle

Curwood (www.curwood.com) cooks up a cook-in bag (7) for Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc., Willmar, MN, that takes a whole turkey from the freezer to the oven without thawing and without a hitch. The Jennie-O Turkey Store(R) "Oven Ready" frozen, whole turkey also needs no other preparation before baking. The new two-part package marries a proprietary, inner cook-in bag (not made by Curwood)—that allows consumers to move the turkey to the oven without handling the product—and an outer, gusseted carrier bag with a built-in, reinforced handle. Curwood describes the outer carrier bag as a 5.7-mil structure comprising an eight-color, reverse-flexo-printed , 48-ga oriented polyester top layer that's extrusion-laminated to a 4.5-mil white LLDPE coex sealant.

Dramatic graphics provide a billboard effect on every panel of the package, including the gusset, the latter of which allows the bag to stand upright at stores. Curwood applies its proprietary IntegraScore(R) easy-opening feature vertically along one side of the outer bag, which enables consumers to open the package without scissors or a knife, thus preserving the integrity of the inner cook-in bag.

Winning top honors in the recent Flexible Packaging Association competition (see PD, March '05, p. 24 or www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa05), the bag is the first package to include Curwood's IntegraScore technology and represents a first for fresh-frozen turkey that need not be thawed before heading to the oven. Applied vertically along one side, the feature allows the bag to be opened without a scissors or a knife, eliminating the risk of damaging the inner bag. A tear notch on the top indicates the starting point for opening the bag.

A view to the barbeque

And for barbeque cooking is a new bag design and new technology that team together to create the Esterpeel(R) Qbag (8), from FFP Packaging Solutions Ltd. (www.ffppkg.co.uk) based in Northampton, U.K. Merging the strength of aluminum foil with an innovative use of polyester heat-seal technology, the 1.4-mil (38-micron) foil bag features a 1-mil (25-micron), heat-sealed polyester window, made using Dupont Teijin (www.dupontteijinfilms.com) films technology, that lets cooks see the food inside the bag and check the heating process.

Another winner that emphasizes easy access to the product, the bag's film window can be peeled open so that the food can be stirred, ingredients may be added or the food can be removed from the bag and served after cooking.

FFP's Martin Hardwidge says the bag also works well in a conventional oven, permitting meat or vegetables to retain moisture and texture. On the grill, the package expands with the introduction of heat, and tents to steam fish, vegetables and other foods, while keeping moisture in and protecting the food from burning or sticking to the bag interior. The window self-vents, allowing steam to escape while the bag's antifog properties ensure that the food inside is still visible.

Designed for delicate foods such as shrimp and cut vegetables or small pieces that could otherwise fall through a grill grate, the windowed bag was first marketed in January 2005 and was officially launched in April. "To our knowledge, there's no competitive bag on the market," states Hardwidge.

Peelable sterilization pouch

Another example of an easy-peel package is a pouch that opens handily after it undergoes steam sterilization. The Autopak(R) three-ply sterilization pouch for Cardinal Health (9) earned Alcan Packaging another silver award. The pouch has a base layer of SMS, a spunbonded/meltblown/spunbonded, nonwoven base layer, produced by BBA Group (www.bbagroup.com), a peelable, proprietary middle layer made by Alcan that's described as coextruded PP-based film, and a clear, tough top layer made by laminating DuPont's Dartek(R) nylon and PP.

The nonwoven base substrate is what allows sterilization gases to permeate the medical package. The substrate also provides a barrier to bacteria and other microbial contamination, ensuring that the medical device remains sterile. Highly transparent and abuse-resistant, the heat-sealed pouch provides visual access to its contents. The package is transparent on one side for visibility, is breathable, is autoclavable and is considered revolutionary in convenience medical packaging.

The pouch also allows sterilization gases to permeate, but prevents bacteria from penetrating. The pouch has substantial abuse-resistance andis applicable to a variety of medical devices. The pouch is end-sealed hermetically.

Autopak was first tested at a hospital in Naperville, IL, in 2003. Cardinal Health, McGaw Park, IL, and Alcan each own multiple, individual and joint patents on the Autopak pouch. Cardinal commercially launched it the following October. The pouch also won an award this year in the Flexible Packaging Assn.'s awards competition (see PD, March '05, p. 24 and at www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa05). Currently, Autopak is available in both heat-sealable and self-adhesive versions and in seven different sizes.

3-in-1 corkscrew

Gardner Technologies (www.gardnertech.com), a Napa, CA, creative and consulting firm, has developed what it calls the IC3,ea three-in-one corkscrew (10) that's integral to the wine package it comes with, which it hopes will send the wine industry spinning.

The 3-in-1 Integrated Corkscrew offers restaurant servers and consumers the romance of tradition coupled with unprecedented ease of use. The glass wine bottle comes with a threaded neck finish that accepts a natural or synthetic cork of the packager's choice and a plastic capsule and its breakaway, resealable overcap, both of which are injection-molded of acryonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

Twisting the capsule several times engages its built-in corkscrew, which quickly and easily removes the cork from the bottle without the need for an additional tool. Gardner says the IC3 also provides superior cork protection, courtesy of the cap liner at the capsule-glass bottle interface, which is made with a three-ply, coextruded foamed LDPE core between two solid layers of LDPE. Adding to the benefits are drip-free pouring and leak-resistant resealing.

Gardner reports that IC3 was launched in August 2003 on about 60,000 bottles of wine from Amusant and other wineries at select restaurants and retailers in California and Texas.

While it's too early to quantify increases in market share, the company's independent research indicates that the majority of wine consumers an independent wine-closure survey of 3,500 people performed by a four-university team, showed a preference for the IC3.

The new-fangled component adds an upcharge of about 10 to 15 cents per bottle, and according to president and founder Bill Gardner, at most, a 3-percent increase. "But the consumer sees huge cost savings because of all the wine paraphernalia they can stop purchasing. At fifteen cents extra, the annual cost of two bottles a week is about $15. Some corkscrews cost more than that."

Microwave susceptor browns food quickly

Quilt Wave(TM), a microwave susceptor material (11) developed by Graphic Packaging Intl. (www.graphicpkg.com), has laminated cells resembling quilting that trap steam and expand when exposed to microwave energy.

As the laminated cells are brought into contact with the material's food contents, the hot surface drives away moisture, maximizing browning and crisping. Produced and flexo-printed at Graphic Packaging's Wausau, WI, facility, the web of quilted material can be used to heat convenience foods consumers can eat straight from the package. Quilt Wave is designed to expand when exposed to microwave energy. Upon expansion, the quilts come into contact with the food but the hot surface immediately next to the food, drives away moisture, browning and crisping the food.

The cellular structure is made of a polyethylene terephthalate/adhesive/paper/adhesive/ metallized PET release coating. First made available in the fall of 2004, the technology involves capturing microwave energy converted into "sensible" heat often lost in the atmosphere. The inflated cells insulate the packaged food from the environment, increasing heat to the food surface, so that the food crisps and browns.

Suitable for food products such as sandwiches, hand-held entrèes, pizza and other finger foods, the material is said to dissipate heat quickly so the food can be handled and isn't too hot to the touch. This occurs through channels formed between the inflated cells. The channels allow steam and moisture to quickly evaporate from the food surface and migrate out of the package, so the package cools quickly. The cells maintain a form that insulates the hot food from the exterior of the package.

One application is grilled-cheese sandwiches from Sepp's Gourmet Foods in Surrey, BC.

"We were looking for a way that's both effective and practical to reheat and crisp our frozen grilled sandwich products," says Sepp's Carl Tillberg, president of the bakery division. "After three months of collaboration with the research and development engineers at Graphic Packaging, we had our answer—the Quilt Wave pouch."

Graphic Packaging says its R&D group expects to develop the technology for irregularly shaped foods like breaded appetizers, breaded entrèes and dough-enrobed foods.

Cosmetic jars lighten up

The packaging for Maria Galland's high-end cosmetic line, available globally, has been redesigned by Ileos GmbH (www.ileos-gmbh.de) of Germany in plastic. The frosted jars (12) in various sizes are now molded of DuPont's Surlyn(R) PC 350 resin. Produced by Ileos, the semi-transparent jars replace glass versions and are hot-stamped in different colors, depending on the product, for a luxurious look. The switch to Surlyn hasn't fazed consumers a bit, the company reports, as Ileos made the transition smooth and easy.

The jars kept their sohisticated look, and Ileos also technically simplified the closures, adopting two-piece caps in green or metallic silver or gold ABS/PP with embossed logos galvanized in silver or gold and glued seal inlays.

Introduced into the market last year, the jars are lighter in weight and offer another important bonus—a cost savings. Maria Galland's says it's betting that the lighter jars will be helpful for women who travel. Ileos' chief operating officer Carsten Wolansky states that the high-tech Surlyn material feels nice in the hand.

Spouted pouch scores for sports drink

Consumer feedback from sports enthusiasts so far rate Energice(R) sports drink a slam dunk. The athletic rehydration beverage was launched in March 2004 by the Ascendia Division of The Jel Sert Co., West Chicago, IL, in Kapak's (www.kapak.com) patented QuadPAK(TM) side-gusseted standup pouch (13). The unusual pouch features a spill-resistant closure and offers a unique alternative to clear plastic sports bottles and drink boxes. The polyester/foil/nylon/PE pouch structure behaves like a flexible box, according to Kapak, and needs no straw. Seaquist Closures (www.seaquistclosures.com) provides a patented, three-piece dispensing assembly with a Smart Spoute PE base fitment and a silicone valved spout, topped with Seaquist's large EZ Turn tamper-evident PP cap that's sized to prevent choking and accidental swallowing. Kapak gravure-prints the pouchstock in eight colors with high-definition graphics on a Toshiba (www.toshiba-machine.co.jp) Sectional Drive GSN 120 press. The graphics are displayed on four panels, creating eye-popping shelf appeal.

Available nationwide at General Nutrition Centers, Energice comes in Fruit Punch, Concord Grape, Lemon-Lime and Blue Raspberry flavors and has a two-uear shelf life in the QuadPak pouch.

Formed by Kapak, the 500-mL pouch can be easily squeezed so that users will get as much or more product out of the pouch than they would chugging from a PET bottle, Jel Sert says. The one-way silicone valve in the spout prevents the sports drink liquid from leaking out when the pouch is turned over. But when squeezed, teh valve forces the liquid up and out through the package, emitting a steady stream of fluid. The box shape of the pouch retains the benefits of a flexible package but was designed to increase shelf impression and allow up to 50 percent larger-volume fills than two-sided pouches.

Years in development, including material and equipment research, the QuadPak pouch is the result of cooperative efforst between Kapak and its spout-insserting equipment manufacturer, which created a way to hermetically mate the fitment assembly to the structure. Another collaboration was involved in filling the package, which is accomplished on a continuous-motion Model CMF-200 rail-equipped filler/capper from Hensen Packaging Concept (www.hensen.de). The pouch structure works in tandem with the filling unit. The base of the spout has a patent-pending, molded feature that allows the pouch to slide onto parallel rails positioned on either side of the fitment. The rails move the flexible pouches through the assembly and filling system.

Tail-wagging petfood bag sports strong seals

Direct from China, Kunshan Jiapu Packaging Co., Ltd. (www.caihua.com), unveils a multilayer blown coex film it says improves the seal strength of heavyweight bags (14).

Appealingly printed, the side-gusseted bag in a proprietary thickness was adopted beginning in 2002 by Mars, Inc., for Pedigreew dog food in 10-kg (22-lb) quantities that are sold in Beijing, Shanghai and GuangZhou. Offering both form and function with its exceptional strength, the sturdy structure consists of a five-layer nylon coextrusion laminated to three layers of coextruded blown PE film.

To guarantee seal integrity, Kunshan Jiapu Packaging notes that it used A/A and A/B sealing methods for the heavy-duty bag's bottom seal and central lap seal. Beyond sealing, other benefits include a transparent, high-gloss surface for the vibrant yellow and red reverse-gravure-printed graphics, excellent puncture- and impact- resistance, excellent aroma barriers, superior oxygen protection, which increases product shelf life and strong seals.

Molded blister-pack breaks with tradition

Unlike many medical blister-packs made of foil and paperboard, the Shellpak(TM) (15), developed by MeadWestvaco Healthcare Packaging (www.meadwestvaco.com), is injection-molded of high-impact PS to provide superior child-resistance and senior-friendliness for patients and consumers and promotes patient compliance. The Shellpak functions as a secondary pharmaceutical package for unit-dose medications.

Made of plastic materials from MeadWestvaco's AGI Polymatrix Div. (www.agipolymatrix.com), the silver award-winning package in the nonfood category was nationally launched in the market at the end of September, 2003. Consisting of a two-piece outer "shell" enclosing the medication in a clear plastic or foil blister that remains integrally attached is especially suitable for tablets, capsules and caplets, the container protects the product and interfaces well with existing blister-pack-manufacturing equipment. The package has been designed for in-house fulfillment using standard cartoning equipment and can be customized to reflect different brand images and to differentiate the product it contains.

Attractive, durable and portable, the container "passed its exams" with consumer focus groups, and was a preferred child-resistant package, the company says, scoring a 100-percent in senior-friendly tests. Several commercial uses are currently planned, but MeadWestvaco says they aren't yet on the market due to extended pharmaceutical product-development cycles.

The customer response has been favorable for over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products, clinical studies and patient sample programs, says Nancy MacCreery, marketing services manager. With a patent pending, the pass-through packaging format can also be adapted to accommodate a pouch, a transdermal patch or an injectible inner container or a thermoformed tray insert. It can also be refilled at the pharmacy in support of source-reduction efforts and be labeled depending on the customer and regulatory needs of the product packaged.

Car-cup lid travels well

An easy-to-handle, reclosable lid (16) for a disposable travel-cup makes driving easier and potentially guards against spills earned a silver award for lid designer Metaphase Design Group (www.metaphase.com).

The Traveler Plus(TM) lid is considered a breakthrough for fast-moving consumers as trends toward eating on-the-run and multitasking grow. The economical cup not only adds value but minimizes hot-drink spills.

A trademark of the Solo Cup Co., Highland Park, IL, the Traveler Plus lid is taller (5/8 in. high) than most conventional, 1/2-in.-tall lids, and has an interlocking, finger-operated, swiveling slide-control disk that snaps into a circular raceway on the underside of the lid. The disk accesses the die-punched sipping opening. Metaphase came up with the concept for the lid, based on Solo's requirements, with some refinements from sister firm, Duo Product Design (www.studioduo.com).

The slide control can be used repeatedly with one hand, and doesn't wear out, so the lid can be quickly and conveniently opened and closed. The slide control also regulates the desired flow rate of the hot beverage by modulating the size of the opening. Intuitive operation, a lift-off tab and stackability complete the lid's convenience aspects. The lid can be used on a wide range of insulated hot cup in sizes including 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 oz.

The lid is thermoformed of two pieces of polystyrene that are then die-cut to create the individual parts. Replacing the flip-up lid used on many hot drink cups, the Traveler Plus lid has a recessed dome top for improved "nose clearance," and requires less awkward tipping of the cup when sipped. It could be a first in that it allows the user to control the beverage flow rate by modulating the size of the opening.

"Before any designs were drawn, we conducted extensive consumer research that included one-handed dexterity, grip architecture analyses and intuitiveness assessment," explains Metaphase CEO and founder Bryce Rutter. Once a set of guidelines was established, the team worked with Solo's in-house engineering and manufacturing experts to develop a lid design that was compatible with high-speed thermoforming processes. The results have o impressed 7-11 and other quick-serve store customers, as coffee sales are percolating.

Dove hairspray actuator controls dispensing

Unilever's Home & Personal Care business has released a new aerosol hairspray container in the Dove haircare line that has an actuator (17) made of a PP random copolymer, with an acetal insert and a polypropylene overcap. Seaquist Perfect Dispensing (www.seaquistperfect.com) and design firm Flurer Design collaborated with Unilever on the esthetic package's overall design and dispensing system that accurately deliver atomized hairspray to a very precise location "within a hairstyle."

That means the actuator's long "snout" acts as an extension of the finger, to direct and target the spray right to the hair's roots to add body, lift and volume. Unilever says this is the first actuator to target a hairspray in such as way. The objective is to keep hairstyles looking stylish, longer.

Affixed to a 202 x 700 tinplate steel can, the mechanical actuator began to appear on Dove hairsprays in December, 2004, and so far, "initial sales figures look very promising," declares Unilever's Mark Neuhalfen of the Home & Personal Care business.

SPECIAL CITATIONS

Tilt-and-eat cereal cup

Judges agreed during their final review of the entries that the following five packages earned a Special Citation for a specific achievement. The Kellogg Co. and designer Metaphase Design Group (www.metaphase.com), teamed up on the launch of Kellogg's Drink 'n Crunch(R) cereal for breakfast and snacks on-the-go (18). Drink 'n Crunch was nationally tested in 2004 before it rolled out nationally in April, 2005 (see PD, December, '03, p. 2 and www.packagingdigest.com/info/kelloggs). The portable package is now available in wider distribution and makes the most of convenience.

Ergonomically designed in a tapered, elliptical shape that fits both adult and children's hands, the single-serve, double-walled, Tip'n Mixe cup contains 1.2 to 2.2 oz of dry Special Kw Vanilla, Frosted Flakes, Crunchy Blends Low Fat Granola or Froot Loopsw cereal to which milk is later added. The inner and outer cups are injected-molded of translucent polypropylene and are topped with a white, plastic snap-fitting lid that has a drink spout flattened on one side to ensure an unobstructed line of sight. The spout was designed to fit a wide range of mouth sizes and is covered by a tabbed, peelable foil/sealant film overseal surface-printed with the cereal's brand graphics.

Instructions on the cup's full body oriented polystyrene shrink label tell the user to shake gently to loosen the cereal in the cup, separate the cups and pour milk into the outer cup to a windowed fill line printed on the film-sleeve label. American Fuji Seal (www.afseal.com) reverse-gravure-prints the colorful sleeve labels adorning each outer cup. The sleeves are applied to the outer cups just prior to packing.

After milk is added to the outer cup, the inner cup can be snap-fit back inside. The colorful seal on top of the lid is peeled back, and the cereal is ready to sip through the opening in the lid, without spoons or bowls needed. The cereal and milk remain in their separate chambers until consumed, allowing the cereal to stay crispy without mess. Targeting kids and adults, the product was test-marketed but is still made to be a grab-and-go item.

Kellogg's, Battle Creek, MI, notes that the double cup makes Drink 'n Crunch "the ultimate portable breakfast for people on-the-go." It also eliminates the need for a bowl and a spoon, while providing the ultimate in portability. Distribution of the four cereal varieties is primarily through foodservice outlets, including campus, corporate and hospital cafeterias and independent restaurants, the company says. Each cup carries a suggested retail price from $1.59 to $2.39 (without milk).

Gusseted pouch for tea

ChaoAn Wenhua Color Print Company, Ltd., of the Guangdong province in China, earned a Special Citation for a distinctive, gusseted standup barrier pouch for Chinese loose-leaf tea (19). ChaoAn Wenhua says the new package is boosting market share and is impressing tea drinkers with its improved functionality. The pouchstock comprises BOPP/vacuum metallized PET/PE, fashioned into a triangular, easy-open construction that's attractively printed in a red, green or beige background. The construction has the barriers needed to protect the tea from oxygen and moisture and features attractive printing sure to bring beauty to store shelves.

Bone-in protection without a patch

Curwood wins again for creating a shrink bag that protects wholesale bone-in meats without the use of a patch. The Curwood Large ABP® Absolute Bone-In Protection shrink bag (20), available in sizes up to 42 in. wide, was developed to help bone-in meats retain their weight and freshness longer. The shrinkable bag is made of an extruded, monolayer BOPE copolymer blend film that's laminated to a 7-layer biaxially oriented film with what Curwood describes as the following general structure: PE copolymer blend layers/PE copolymer blend layers. The clear bag is wide enough for wholesale bone-in meat being transferred from the meat processor to the supermarket, offering exceptional puncture-resistance, clarity and shrink.

Large bone-in meats have always been a challenge to package, because the bone tends to puncture most packaging films. While "patch" bags do a great job of reinforcing areas most susceptible to punctures, Curwood says its proprietary, continuous lamination technology affords a continuous sheet of puncture-inhibiting film with a high oxygen barrier, plenty of abuse protection and edge-to-edge protection without patches.

Three years ago, Curwood developed ArmorXe (or Small ABP), a biaxially oriented shrink bag for retail cuts of bone-in meat. Made with polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), the bag practically transformed the retail market for bone-in meat cuts because it generated fewer leakers, looked attractive and helped the meat retain juices. The latest ABP technology involves extruding a bag wide enough for wholesale applications. In trial runs, the Large ABP bag, in film widths up to 42 in., reduced leaker rates from 10 to 3 percent. The Large ABP bag is said to be the widest of its kind produced with the same performance as its retail counterpart. Although the Large APB is still being fully commercialized, Curwood says several major meat processors have already converted to it.

Standup flex-pack protects against counterfeit whiskey

A totable, standup pouch concealing a 1- or 1.5-L whiskey bottle won for India's Flex Industries Ltd. (www.flexfilm.com). Adopted for McDowell's Whiskey from McDowell's United Breweries Group's Spirits Div. in India, the pouch, with an integral carry handle, helps reduce counterfeiting risks (21) and replaces gift cartons with an eye-catching, flexible package structure. Made of 12-micron (about 48-ga) PET, dry-laminated to 12-micron (48-ga) metallized PET and 75-micron (3-mil) LDPE, the pouch is reverse-printed by gravure in eight colors by Flex Industries, a part of the Flex Group, and is punched with a handle hole. The gold package makes a striking presentation as it checks counterfeiting. Unlike cartons, the pouch has a one-time use as it must be torn open to access the bottle, which helps thwart counterfeiting of the McDowell's brand. Also winning an FPA award (see PD, April, '05 p. 30 and www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa052),the package debuted in India in 2004. The pouch is said take less time than cartons to print, laminate, slit and form.

Glittering BOPP film

As in India, counterfeit packaging is a major problem in Asia, so a holographic, metallized BOPP film (22) has been developed by China's Shanghai Renmin Plastic Printing Co. (www.rm-sl.com) to defend against counterfeiting and to attract repeat customers. The company created a cost-effective, metallized holographic film that can be used to label aerosol cans. Citing examples such as cans of Raid insecticide spray and Pledge furniture polish, the company says that the gravure-printed film "introduces laser technology in printing." The results offer glossy film-laminate labels that resist scratches and fading, unmistakable brand differentiation and brand identity and provide a more colorful presentation than direct decorating on the surface of a metal can.

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