Compression belt: Product of the Day

Compression belt: Product of the Day

The Emplex compression belts now have an improved look design ( 3-in. vs 2-in. loop, and better material) and an even bigger motor (½ hp). Also, there is a better support frame to ensure parallelism between the two conveyors. Synchronization is enhanced due to the positive drive for the compression belt. An Emplex compression belt can take up to 97 percent of excess air out of a bag. For many companies, this translates to significant savings as compressed bags for medical applications have shorter sterilization cycles and their reduced volume allows more products to be placed in each carton for shipping.

PlexPack Corp., 416-291-8085

Marijuana packaging: Implied endorsement?

Marijuana packaging: Implied endorsement?

If the Packaging Digest story “Marijuana Packaging: Beyond the baggie” was a movie, it would have been the first blockbuster of the summer. Not only has it generated more than 3x the pageviews on our website, but it continues to draw in readers.

It never occurred to me that our audience would interpret the fact that we wrote this article as an implied endorsement of legalized marijuana. We are merely reporting on an emerging market and the implications for packaging.

But on Wed., May 14, we received a letter to the editor posing this thought-provoking counterpoint:


Good Wednesday Afternoon.

Today I received my digital copy of the magazine, and was stunned at the Beyond the Baggie cover. No doubt there’s a “Wow!” factor, but that Wow can be interpreted as an endorsement for legalization. I question if you fully thought that out before publishing? 

(For the record, I freely admit that I am opposed to full legalization. )

I read Kate’s article completely (she did her usual thorough and complete job ), and saw that there was no outright pro or con statement being made. But the theme of the article is that it’s coming, and there’s money to be made, and here’s what those already in the market are doing.   Almost a “How to…” guide for packaging all forms of pot.

Way back in the early 70’s I remember reading a novel titled Acapulco Gold . In it, the author (Edwin Corley) paints a picture of how some in the cigarette industry are prepping for impending legalization, and how they would get it going. As I read through Kate’s piece, well, for me it was “déjà vu all over again”….some forty years later.  (Interesting, isn’t it, how things we think are ‘new’ … really aren’t!)

What I would like to have seen is some counterpoint. Even the standard disclaimer would add balance.  Yes –  Pot for Fun – is now legal in two states, and is on the front burner in others, but should it be?  I know your intent was not to make any political or moral statements, but when you do such a thorough job of detailing, can’t it be said that that implies consent? 

And: how many readers, by merely looking at the cover, will instantly draw the (erroneous) conclusion that Kliklok-Woodman now makes equipment for packaging marijuana?

Even after legalization in Washington state, they say they are ”still working the kinks out” , which I find hilariously similar to that modern-day classic:  “we have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it”.  I fear we looking at another grand social experiment that uses the general populace as the guinea pigs.

BTW, if you look at the last two lines of each column on Page 20, the phrase “Washington state is still working the kinks out” appears directly across from “Keep Out of Reach of Children”.  Coincidence? Prophetic?

So, I am somewhat disappointed in a magazine that I consider to be top notch.  However, I also know that I have attained dinosaur status, and consequently hold opinions that many do not. So please take all of the above for what it is, and I thank you for taking your valuable time reading what I have to say.

Jim Pfister

Mechanicsburg, PA

Global packaging summit returns with dynamic line-up

Global packaging summit  returns with dynamic line-up

The Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit is headed back to the Windy City where it will take place July 15-17, 2014, at the Chicago Hyatt Regency. The conference program has been enhanced this year to include two learning tracks that offer high-quality learning to those in the food and beverage sector: Strategies for Marketing & Brand Differentiation plus Technical Intelligence to Enhance Production & Engineering. Attendees will hear about in-depth case studies that show improved return-on-investment results for existing and redesigned packaging systems.

As the number of on-the-go consumers continues to rise in the food and beverage industry, now more than ever packaging professionals are charged with the task of meeting growing demands while continuing to innovate and enhance the product’s presence in the marketplace. This two-day intensive summit includes a comprehensive lineup that will help move packaging strategies forward.

Whether you are a marketing/brand manager or a production engineer, expect to walk away from this conference with all the knowledge, strategies and networking opportunities needed to protect your brand and cultivate the packaging behind tomorrow’s cutting-edge products.

This year there are more speakers than ever from the top brand owners and packaging companies, including PepsiCo, MillerCoors, Campbell Soup Co., Target, Tampico, Amcor, J.M. Smucker, Mondelez Intl., Bacardi, Avery Dennison, Landor Associates, ConAgra, Cargill, General Mills, MWV Corp., TricorBraun, Mintel, TetraPak and many more.
Key topics of discussion will include updates on leading consumer trends, flexible packaging, lightweighting, smart packaging, direct-to-customer distribution, printed electronics, sustainable and ethical sourcing, and many more.

Other major themes that industry leaders will examine are hygienic zoning principles, efficient/effective design for distribution, decoration trends and growth opportunities in global markets.
Dr. Gail Barnes, Ph.D., partner, Personify, will be chairperson for Track A on day one and day two afternoons and will also moderate a panel discussion on July 16—“Designing when the package is your only medium.” Dennis Young, instructor of packaging development technology, Michigan State University, School of Packaging, will be chairperson for Track B on day one and day two afternoons and will also moderate a panel discussion on July 17—“Materials science: What’s in your next top-performing package?”

Each day starts strong with thought-leading content:
Top consumer trends influencing food & beverage packaging design & development: market intelligence to drive relevant, competitive packaging
What are the leading consumer trends and behaviors that are influencing food & beverage packaging today?
Wed., July 16, 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Speaker: Denise Lefebvre, vp of global beverage packaging, Pepsico

Bringing innovation and strategy together for product development
Exploring the innovation and ideation marketplace: What are your sources for innovative ideas and how can they be broadened?
Thurs., July 17, 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Speaker: Jill McCurdy, director of packaging innovation & development, MillerCoors

Pre-conference workshop
Mastering the food & beverage supply chain
How to Drive End-to-End Performance
Tues., July 15, 1:00–5:00 p.m.
Lead by Dan Balan, president of Fastraqq Inc.

Workshop summary
Supply Chain is the biological tissue that connects suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, intermediaries and consumers. From product design to packaging development, manufacturing to customer service, or finance to strategy, virtually everyone touches a finished product/service. In a complex web of company functions and dynamic industries, problems are cross-functional and curvilinear.
The food and beverage supply chain has profound implications for the packaging professional. Packaging exerts a pervasive influence throughout the ecosystem—from idea to shelf and from consumption to disposal.

In this powerful 4-hour workshop you will learn:
• The foundations of supply chains
• The objectives, constraints, and dynamic conflicts in the ecosystem
• The 10 big pitfalls in any supply chain
• How packaging can improve efficiencies and reduce costs
• The role of sustainability in supply chains
• How to transform your supply chain from end-to-end

Balan explains, “This 4-hour seminar gives packaging professionals a well-rounded education beyond packaging technologies and design…this course shows them how to think about packaging as an integrated system that becomes a strategic asset for their company.”

For more information about how to register for the summit and pre-conference workshop, visit or call 310-445-8535. Make sure to mention source code CONFDM1 when registering to save up to $200 before June 20, 2014.

Vertical lift module offers design flexibility for the storage and picking of small parts

Vertical lift module offers design flexibility for the storage and picking of small parts

Today, the vast majority of small parts inventory in manufacturing facilities, large and small, utilize a person-to-goods model for fulfillment, many operating on a manual paper-based system to prepare assembly line kitting requests, ship spare parts, and store finished orders in their warehouse. In such a traditional inventory model, pickers walk or move a floor truck to the rack and floor locations to manually pick parts or finished goods. This mainstay person-to-goods order picking paradigm has been used for decades by manufacturers with an obvious level of success. But as the quantity of parts has continued to increase, coupled with the growing push to streamline manufacturing costs, the traditional person-to-goods inventory model has come under serious challenge. 

Where once considered acceptable for a picker to spend 60 percent of the time traveling and 40 percent of the time picking, as is typical in a person-to-goods model, manufacturing executives are increasingly looking for more efficient solutions to minimize the amount of wasted time between picks and increase the number of orders processed per picker. Manual picking is a highly labor-intensive function, and can provide significant cost-savings when automated. Not surprisingly, many manufacturing executives are embracing a goods-to-person fulfillment approach as a solution to achieve more efficiency in their picking processes – moving the inventory to the picker who is comparatively more stationary, utilizing advanced technology to facilitate the inventory storage and movement. 

One such automated system is the LogiMat vertical lift module (VLM), manufactured by SSI SCHAEFER. This goods-to-person concept is simple: Incoming goods are put into the high-density, automated, carousel storage VLM. As orders for parts, or for shipping are required to be filled, the items are automatically retrieved from the storage system and brought to the picker at an ergonomic receipt station, where items are then picked from partitioned drawers. Since the picker does not have to walk, the focus at the pick station is on ergonomics and high productivity.

Most versatile vertical lift module

LogiMat is the most advanced and versatile VLM available, providing a suite of capabilities that deliver a six- to ten-fold increase in order picking speeds, reduced picking errors, and a compact footprint.  Its unique features include…

Rack & pinion drive: Used for movement of the elevator and extractor, rack and pinion provides a more positive movement, better tray stability and less servicing compared to chain- and belt-driven designs.

Ergonomics: The opening height adjusts to the worker to ensure an ergonomically correct operating height, while a tilt mechanism allows for a reduction of reach depth, facilitating the ergonomic removal of goods.

Laser pointer: The LogiPointer laser pointer system, assisted by a centrally located touchscreen, identifi­es the location in the drawer of the part to be picked, making the picking of orders clear and easy.

Security: An electrically-driven locking door provides security for storing valuable goods.  Light barriers can be employed to protect the operating opening. Restricted accesses are possible with password protected login.  All system events and errors are logged and can be viewed for maintenance.

Scalable controls software: From a basic controls design enabling storage and retrieval of the trays by identi­fication numbers, to a full inventory control solution supporting multiple zones. Capable of support shelves, pallets, goods reception, consolidation and shipments.

Optimized tray positioning and batch order picking: The smart placement algorithm finds the optimal position for each tray, and always finds the most streamlined picking sequence to optimize the pick process.

Flexible tray & compartment options: Variable tray dimensions (length, width and height), and weight capacities from 550 to 1,980 lbs. Virtually limitless choice of compartment accessories available from SSI SCHAEFER’S extensive plastic container portfolio.

24/7/365 worldwide service & support: Maximizes operational reliability and uptime of the system.

LogiMat streamlines inventory picking at Volvo Construction Equipment

Volvo Construction Equipment’s plant operations located in Shippensburg, PA, has been experiencing growth in its product lines, and the volume of product that is flowing through its facility. This has put the plant on the path of figuring out better ways of storing material in its warehousing operation, while trying to increase the number of inventory turns.

“Our previous strategy involved racking for all of our small, point-of-use parts to be consumed on our assembly line producing Volvo wheeled front-end loaders--500 linear ft of 28-ft-high racks with 16 levels,” says Dante Candelaria, industrial engineer in the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Volvo. “We wanted to condense those racks into a smaller form factor that was more dense, then utilize the remaining square footage for larger, palletized parts.”

“In December, 2012, we installed two LogiMat VLMs, each 12-ft in length and 6-ft deep,” explains Candelaria. “Combined, these units are now holding 5,000 small part numbers, and are a total of 24 linear ft wide leaving us 476 linear ft that we converted from tote racking to 1,600 new pallet racking locations. We have gone from four pickers previously, now to only one, while handling the same volume of orders, if not more. We are able to handle 80 picks per hour, per VLM, with multiple quantities per pick. Needless to say, we are very pleased with the system.”

KNF Neuberger relies on LogiMat

Needing to expand floor space for more production facility, the KNF Neuberger plant in Trenton, NJ, which manufactures compressors and pumps for use with gases and liquids, opted to install two LogiMat VLMs in August, 2012 into its finished goods warehouse. 6,000 finished pumps and compressors, held in floor racking, were transferred into the VLMs which occupied 144 sq ft combined, opening up 500 sq ft of floor space for production. A third LogiMat was installed into the plant’s small parts inventory area for assembly line kitting, to help store a growing 20,000-part inventory, and flanking two existing VLMs, previously installed.

“When you have a lot of parts, and your system goes down, you have to stop your production because you cannot get parts out of the VLM,” says Juergen Strauss, director of operations for KNF Neuberger. “Chains and belts stretch, which impacts the VLM’s operation, increasing downtime and servicing. So, we wanted to take the most secure route that we could go, and opted for the VLM with rack and pinion drive. That was a key consideration that resulted in us getting interested in LogiMat.” 

“We also liked the LogiMat laser pointer system that pinpoints exactly where the parts are in the drawer, giving a color mark display on the HMI screen,” explains Strauss. “Our picking of wrong parts went down to zero. We have since installed LogiMats in four other plants.”

Patrick Roberts writes on advances in logistics and material handling.

Ancient grains packaging gets culinary redesign

Ancient grains packaging gets culinary redesign

 Ancient Harvest, known for its organic quinoa and ancient grain line, recently expanded its product portfolio by launching Mac & Cheese and Culinary Ancient Grains. These new introductions coincide with a packaging redesign and revamped website. Packaging Digest got the exclusive on the new packaging refresh from Constance Roark, director of marketing, Ancient Harvest.

What is the motivation behind Ancient Harvest’s recent activity in introducing new products/packaging?

Roark: One of the biggest challenges – for those eating gluten-free, vegetarians, flexitarians, or people who are simply living a healthy lifestyle – is finding nutritious options that can satisfy the entire family. Growing our portfolio of products adds to the variety of high-quality, tasty options available. While the brand’s roots are in quinoa, we feel it’s important to expand to include other nutrient-dense and naturally gluten-free ancient grains in our products.

Taking consumer feedback into account, the refreshed packaging is anchored in the core benefits of our products with a more contemporary and culinary look. The new logo designed as an abstract representation of a quinoa seed emerging from its pod, emphasizes the iconic image evocative of the quinoa “supergrain” that is the centerpiece of the Ancient Harvest brand.

What are the benefits for retailers and/or consumers of introducing new products and packaging in tandem like you have?

Roark: The refreshed packaging gives Ancient Harvest the ability to expand into the rich world of ancient grains while maintaining our connection with loyal customers. Ancient Harvest continues to thrive in the booming quinoa category while driving new product innovation. As we continue to evolve to meet consumer needs, the new packaging will allow us to better communicate our rich company history, values and vision, and showcase our robust product lines to existing and future fans of Ancient Harvest, which will help consumers more clearly identify products from the brand they have trusted for more than 30 years.

Does your new packaging set any new trends in the natural/organic industry?

Roark: Trying to stand out on the shelf while communicating product benefits, taste and texture profiles, flavors and product imagery on packaging can get cluttered and overwhelming. Our new packaging is minimalistic, but also shares Ancient Harvest’s values and promise. Prior to creating the new design, we heard from consumers that they like the bold teal color and associate it with Ancient Harvest. For this reason, the teal is still very bold and prominent on our new packaging.

What changes did you make to the packaging that makes it more eye catching?

Roark: We think our original packaging was eye catching with the bold teal color. We looked at the new packaging as an evolution instead of a revolution. We wanted to maintain our connection with loyal customers while creating a more contemporary look, so we kept the well-known teal color and made it a bit brighter. One of the biggest changes we made was revamping the Ancient Harvest logo. Our new logo still pays tribute to quinoa, our flagship grain, but makes the Ancient Harvest brand more recognizable to the consumer.

When and where (regionally or nationally) were the products introduced?

Roark: The new Mac & Cheese and Culinary Ancient Grains hit shelves in spring 2014. Both products are available nationally.

What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view? From a packaging view?

Roark: While consumers recognized our packaging, they didn’t necessarily recognize the brand by name. Our goal was to debut our new products and packaging and make the Ancient Harvest brand name more recognizable while maintaining the recognition with loyal customers. From a marketing perspective, we aim to continue to drive relevancy for the brand, which new packaging helps us do.

7 attention-getting beverage beauties

7 attention-getting beverage beauties
Few wines have targeted the female side of the market as directly and fashionably as Viama, a 1.5-L bag-in-purse (that’s right, purse) that looks like a lady’s handbag, has a spout on the side and is sold in 5 varietals for $14.99 each.

Binny’s Beverage Depot is a chain of 30 superstores in the Chicago area with an amazing selection of beverages of all types, especially those containing alcohol such as beer, wine and spirits. A recent visit uncovered these notable packages among the visual highlights; pricing is reported directly from Binny’s shelf.

Compact poucher with upgraded controls: Product of the Day

Compact poucher with upgraded controls: Product of the Day

QuickPouch, the super-compact vertical form/fill/seal system that packs up to 20 per minute pouching capability, has added Advanced Control System electronics using an Allen-Bradley PLC from Rockwell Automation. Seen this month at TexasPack (shown), the vertical ACS model relies on integrated sensors to monitor vital validation packaging parameters including heat-seal temperature, duration, pressure and more to assure high-integrity, 4-side sealed pouches.  Any setting outside of preset ranges will trigger alarm alerts.

This validating system optimizes the packaging of powders, liquids or solids for pharmaceutical, cosmetic and certain medical packaging operations, according to Evan LaRocca, the company’s director of marketing. It also offers a 10-inch color touchscreen panel from Schneider Electric.

Intended for short run production requirements, the standard system can produce pouches up to 6 inches W x 9 inches H on the standard system and 12 inches x 19 inches on the QPV Plus version. Notably, the system can handle Tyvek materials; there is also an all stainless steel model, LaRocca adds.


Tackling the toughest issues

Tackling the toughest issues
Compressed deodorants fit the same amount of product in much smaller cans

Winners in the 2014 DuPont Awards competition display technological savvy, environmental responsibility and attention to the consumer experience.

This year’s DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation competition, the 26th annual, shines a spotlight on the cleverest, greenest and most consumer-friendly packages from around the world.

A total of 16 packages were honored in the 2014 competition, with Unilever earning the Diamond Award for its Compressed deodorant cans. Five other packages, for products ranging from pasta dough to cleaning products, received Gold Awards. An additional 10 packages were awarded Silver.

The judging criteria were changed this year to better reflect industry drivers and trends. The three judging categories were: Responsible Packaging, Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience. Silver winners demonstrated excellence in any one of these categories. The gold winners hit two out of the three, and the Diamond winner excelled in all three.

An international panel of judges examined almost 200 entries from 31 countries to select the winning packages.

Here are the winners of the Diamond and Gold Awards.

Diamond: Compressed deodorants fit the same amount of product in much smaller cans

Won for Technological Advancement, Responsible Packaging and Enhanced User Experience

Unilever (United Kingdom) took top honors this year with its Compressed deodorant packaging, which delivers environmental, consumer and retailer benefits.

The company uses the cans for several aerosol-deodorant brands, including Dove, Rexona/Sure, Vaseline and Lynx/Axe. The new 75-milliliter Compressed cans contain the same amount of deodorant protection as the conventional 150ml cans, but the new cans use considerably less packaging and require less gas to deliver the deodorant.

On average, the Compressed packages require 25 percent less aluminum and 50 percent less gas for each can. Because the cans are smaller, 53 percent more cases fit on each pallet, which provides shipping and storage efficiencies.

Retailers can fit up to 45 percent more cans on the shelf, and consumers benefit because the smaller cans are more portable and therefore better suited to on-to-go use and travel.

“The biggest packaging challenge was to re-engineer the spray system so that the new Compressed products could deliver to their promise to last as long as the big cans and to provide consumers with their best-ever aerosol-deodorant experience,” says Sebastian Alvarez, R&D global technical project leader at Unilever.

He adds: “Working in partnership with our valve and [actuator] suppliers and with our internal formulation experts, we managed to design a spray system with the right characteristics … to get the right spray performance from the start to end of the life of each pack.”

Unilever worked with Lindal Group to develop the valve for the new package and with Epoch Design Ltd. to create the graphics.

Gold: Squeezable carton-pouch makes fresh pasta quick and easy

Won for Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience

A creative and practical retail package for Frizle brand organic, raw spätzle doughgives consumers an easy, fast, mess-free way to make fresh pasta at home. VerDeSoft (Germany) designed the package and developed equipment to erect, fill and close it.

The Frizle carton-pouch is rectangular with an almond-shaped bottom panel that features a series of holes covered with a seal. The consumer removes the seal and squeezes the package, over a pot of boiling water, to dispense the semi-fluid dough through the holes.

Sold as a refrigerated product, the pasta cooks in three minutes. The package is designed for a single use and holds 380 grams of dough. ALB-GOLD Teigwaren GmbH (Germany) supplies the dough.

Martin Spiegel Kartonagenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG (Germany) is the converter of the packaging material, which consists of paperboard with an inner coating of polyolefin. The coating provides barrier properties and is compatible with ultrasonic sealing. Strong seals are necessary because of the amount of pressure the squeezable package is subjected to at the time of use.

Frizle brand pasta is sold in Germany at Edeka and REWE supermarkets and other stores.

Gold: Smart dosing cap reduces cleaning-product waste

Won for Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience

The smart dosing, auto-stop cap from Procter & Gamble solves the housekeeping problem of dispensing too much cleaning product, especially concentrates. Created for P&G’s highly concentrated liquid cleaners, the cap is the “smallest dosing system in market,” according to the company. By improving dose control, the cap reduces consumers’ product waste.

Designed for ease of use, the cap uses a timer mechanism to deliver exactly one dose of cleaner per squeeze. When the consumer inverts the PET bottle and squeezes it, the cap dispenses a dose of product and a piston moves forward to stop the flow of product. The cap includes an easy-open flip top and drip-free spout, and it’s compatible with various bottle sizes.

P&G uses the smart dosing cap for Mr. Clean, Mr. Propre and Flash concentrated cleaners in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, and also in the United States and Canada. Each pre-measured dose equals five to 50 milliliters, depending on the product, with high accuracy and reproducibility throughout the life of the product.

The cap consists of just four parts. Unlike many other dosing pumps and systems, the smart dosing cap is recyclable because all the parts are made of polypropylene.Its simple design also makes it a low-cost component to manufacture.

P&G groups from Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.S. participated in the smart dosing cap project.

Gold: Printing technique enables variable information without extra labels

Won for Technological Advancement and Responsible Packaging

A printing technology from Plastipak Packaging Inc. (USA) called Direct Object Printing provides environmental benefits—primarily, reduced label waste. The technique makes it possible to print directly on rigid packages, as Plastipak did with the Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Liquid Laundry DetergentbottlefromP&G.

The plastic Tide bottle is printed on the shoulder with an “HE” emblem to signify the detergent’s compatibility with high-efficiency washers.

Additional applications for Direct Object Printing include limited-time information, such as promotional messages, coupons or quick-response (QR) codes. It also can be used for full-panel printing on the front, side or back of a bottle.

The technology is “all digital, drop-on-demand, single-pass inkjet, with variable-print capability,” says Ron Uptergrove, director of advanced manufacturing at Plastipak. The print designs and/or text can be changed within seconds, enabling fast time to market and runs of bottles with a variety of promotional messages.

Uptergrove says Plastipak has “focused on developing print capability on many [package] shapes,” including ovals, squares and round packages. The technique can be used to print embossed surfaces, as well.

A key benefit of the technology is reduced use of labels, which stems waste, simplifies package recycling, streamlines the packaging supply chain and reduces carbon footprint. Further, the UV inks used in Direct Object Printing are eco-friendly; they contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Gold: Tear-apart pouch holds two cooking sauces

Won for Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience

Nestlé Australia Ltd. focused on convenience and ease of use with its dual-compartment stand-up pouch for Maggi Stir Fry Creations. Consumers can cleanly separate the two compartments by tearing along an easy-open perforated line that runs up the center of the package. Amcor Flexibles (China and Singapore) prints, converts and pre-makes the pouch. Nestlé also worked with Landor (Australia) on the package design.

The product, which comes in several flavors, was created to help consumers make authentic-tasting Asian food at home. One of the pouch’s compartments holds an Infusion Paste and the other contains Finishing Sauce.

The home cook first mixes meat or chicken with the Infusion Paste, then stir-fries the protein and finally adds vegetables to the pan. When the vegetables are cooked, the Finishing Sauce is stirred in to complete the dish.

Double gussets in the bottom of the pouch—one at the base of each compartment—enable the package to stand up before and after it’s torn in two. The package’s total fill weight is 150 grams.


Gold: UHT milk pouch provides months of shelf life

Won for Responsible Packaging and Enhanced User Experience

A pillow pouch that’s aseptically filled with UHT (ultra-high temperature) processed milk is making shelf-stable liquid milk more widely available in India. The package, which provides 90 days of shelf life before it’s opened, offers a low-cost alternative to conventional aseptic packaging.

The project is a strategic partnership of three companies: Parakh Agro Industries Ltd. (India), under managing director Prakash Parakh; Elecster (Finland), under director Hannu Asunmaa; and ISF Industries (India), under managing director Siva Sivakumaran.Parakh Agro supplies the film for the pouches, Elecster supplies the sterilizing and aseptic UHT pouch filling equipment, and ISF Industries provides sales and service for the film lines.

The pouch film was “jointly developed by Parakh Agro and Elecster to suit Indian environmental conditions,” says Vinay Nalawade, director of packaging at Parakh Agro.The 5-layer, EVOH-based film used to make the pouches incorporates a tie layer of DuPont Bynel 4109 resin.

For dairies, the pouches offer a smaller carbon footprint than non-shelf-stable packages, plus lower costs for storage and distribution because refrigeration is not required. Dairies also benefit from a significantly lower packaging-materials cost for UHT pouched milk vs conventional aseptic packages—savings that could be passed on to consumers.

The shelf-stable pouches are a practical choice for consumers without refrigerators. And because the pouches are aseptically filled with sterilized milk, consumers enjoy ready-to-drink convenience; they do not need to boil the milk before drinking it.

The pouched UHT milk is sold under the Amul brand name insizes ranging from 100 milliliters to 1 liter.

Kate Bertrand Connolly is a seasoned freelance writer based in the San Francisco area covering the packaging, food and technology markets. You can contact her at

Silver Winners

Read descriptions of the Silver Award winning packages at


Closed-loop recycling turns old PET water-cooler bottles into new

Ice River Springs Water Co. (USA)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Beeswax honey pots protect product, reduce waste

Betamiel (Morocco)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Retort pouch offers Brazilian restaurants an alternative to cans

Bemis (Brazil)

Won for Enhanced User Experience

Infini HDPE bottle minimizes weight without sacrificing performance

Nampak Plastics (United Kingdom)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Sandwich pouch uses ‘steam dome’ to control microwave heating

Curwood, Hillshire Brands (USA, all)

Won for Technological Advancement

Flexible box offers benefits of rigid packaging with less waste

Clear Lam Packaging Inc., John B. Sanfilippo and Son Inc., Spear Systems (USA, all)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Chicken bag provides roast-in convenience and boosts food safety

FFP Packaging Solutions Ltd., Faccenda, ASDA, Ulma Packaging (United Kingdom, all)

Won for Enhanced User Experience

Audible click signals secure reclosing of sliced-ham package

Sigma Alimentos, Multivac, Winpak (Mexico, all)

Won for Enhanced User Experience

Foil-free soup packet reduces carbon footprint while maintaining shelf life

Mondi, Mondi Coatings GmbH, Mondi Coating Zeltweg GmbH (Austria, all); Afripack Group (South Africa)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Gatorade bottle loses weight but gains strength

Pepsico, Stress Engineering, Tether (USA, all)

Won for Responsible Packaging

Clear PP food can withstands retort, showcases product

Clear PP food can withstands retort, showcases product
The plastic KlearCan maintains the shape of a metal can but in a lightweight and clear package.

All the buzz at interpack 2014, the KlearCan from Kortec Inc. is a 3-layer PP/EVOH/PP can designed with a special footed base that flexes, allowing it to withstand the pressures of retorting. Designed to be a drop-in replacement for metal food cans, KlearCan requires virtually no modifications to existing filling/seaming/labeling operations at the brand owner level.

With contact clarity, the co-injected package showcases the product inside and offers food manufacturers a point of differentiation on shelf while providing from two to five years shelf life.

Read more about the technical details in an article in the U.K. magazine Plastics in Packaging, written by editor Steven Pacitti, who is a fellow member of the Intl. Packaging Press Organisation (IPPO).

In an exclusive interview at interpack with Russell Bennett, Kortec vp of sales and marketing, Packaging Digest asked the obvious questions, along with some tough ones, too.

Why develop a retortable plastic can?

Bennett: We’re a machine manufacturer that manufactures co-injection technology that allows you to have a 3-layer structure within a rigid plastic container. Up to around three to four years ago, pretty much all of our business was in PET bottles. We were extending the shelf life of products like beer, ketchup, tea, juices by stopping carbon dioxide from leaving the package or by stopping oxygen from going into the package. But we were pretty much exclusively in [barrier] PET.

We tried to think about diversifying the company a little bit and one of the things we noted was that PET was not usable in the food space. That’s primarily due to the fact that PET will not withstand the temperatures that are required during the retort processing of food—whereas polypropylene will. Kortec had done limited work with PP; we knew we could use it.

So we did some primary market research with a company called Birch Grove, who are based in Michigan in the U.S. What they did for us was reach out to a number of different kind of folks along the supply chain, including brand owners, to find out if a plastic food packaging for shelf-stable products was available and what would it look like.

Two clear messages came back. The first one was “We’d like it to be clear so that the consumer can see our product to differentiate our product from some other lower-quality product in the marketplace.”

The second thing they wanted was “We’d like it to look like a can because consumers associate the can with food safety”—which sounds a little bit odd, but basically the way in which people apparently operate and buy cans is for later on. You don’t buy them for tonight’s meal so much. You buy them for later on so that if you need something…a can of soup…

From the pantry…

Bennett: Exactly. Or some friends stop by unexpectedly, you’ve got something in the pantry.

It’s a little bit different in certain areas. So things like vegetables, like beans and so on, sometimes are purchased for that night’s meal but generally it’s something in the pantry.

For stock…

Bennett: Exactly. And that kind of concept goes against the clear concept because consumers associate clarity with fresh. So, now, we’ve kind of combined clarity with a can shape and we believe we’ve created something which gives the best of both worlds. So you’ve got something which the consumer will regard as relatively fresh but also will regard as food safe and something you can put in the pantry for use at a later date.

Why now?

Bennett: We’re introducing the KlearCan here at interpack. It’s the first time we’ve shown it anywhere. It is a patented technology and we’ve trademarked the name. Basically, it’s the combination of a lot of development work that we’ve been doing since the market research. Now is the time when we’re ready to bring the product to the marketplace. It did take quite a bit of development to make something which would withstand the pressure changes associated with retort packaging.

It is PP?

Bennett: Yes. All of Kortec’s technology…we take two polymers and make a 3-layer structure. For this particular package, it’s PP/EVOH/PP. The PP is on the inside and outside—it’s the PP that comes into contact with the food. The EVOH provides the barrier. Depending upon how much EVOH we put it, will depend on how much shelf life you get because that’s what stops the oxygen from getting in.

It’s not a perfect barrier—few polymers are. You put more in, you get longer shelf life. Based on our studies and studies done by our partner, Kuraray, who are the EVOH supplier, we think we can get between two and five years, after retort.

You can’t use PET. You need to use PP for these high retort temperatures. The industry standard is 121-degrees C.

How are you getting the clarity? It looks like contact clarity. Are you using some kind of clarifier?

Bennett: The PP does have a clarifier in it—just a standard grade that we buy as a clarified PP. It’s not a special grade. We’re not working with anybody special; we just selected the best grades from various suppliers.

Why is this a good time to introduce a plastic food can to the market?

Bennett: From the market perspective, we’re seeing more and more plastic packaging entering into the marketplace. It’s a continuing trend.

The can industry has gone through a number of difficult times, particularly with the BPA [bisphenol-A] thing going on. I think that brand owners are continuously looking for new ways to differentiate their products from other products. So the time is right for a plastic can.

Are there any applications outside of food?

Bennett: The can was specifically developed so it would withstand the pressures associated with retort. It goes through a heat cycle, the pressure builds inside the can and then it gets cooled and the pressure subsides. In fact, it forms a vacuum so that the pressure becomes a negative pressure at that point. The can must be able to flex and move during that process. We spent a lot of time getting a can that has the right structure and the right design to withstand that without going to a deformed state, called paneling. That’s where a round container kind of squares itself off.

With the specific design that we have, we’ve been able to avoid paneling during the retorting and cooling process.

Is this a three-piece can?

Bennett: It’s a two-piece can, injection molded. Everything below the closure is injection molded. That’s what Kortec’s technology produces. This is what the manufacturer will sell to the canner or brand owner. Everything else with this is standard in the industry. The filling machines, the seaming machines to seam the end on, the retorting process and all distribution is just standard. This just slots straight into the current distribution string.

With little or no modification on the packaging line?

Bennett: Really, there is pretty much none. But I’ll clarify my comment. With plastic and metal double seaming, we had to develop a particular shape to the flange here and we also had to develop a chuck and roll set which gave a good double seam. We used a very experienced consultant from the can industry to help us with that process. What he developed was a well-balanced double seam.

You have a can end and you have the can body. This is called a double seam because there is one fold, two folds of metals. This is done by a rolling process. The rolls push the metal around and in, to form the double seam.

One of the features you’re touting is low cost. How does this compare to a metal can?

Bennett: We’re not that familiar with the market price of metal cans. We don’t buy cans. I asked several can makers how much their cans are and they are really not prepared to discuss that.

Volumes…it all depends.

Bennett: Yes, it all depends. Based on what information we have been able to gather from various brand owners and others in the market, we believe we are at least at parity. We also believe we could be 10 and 15 percent lower than the current can.

There are some other things to consider in all this, too. Injection molding is a relatively flexible process, unlike can making. Can making generally is done in very large plants to produce huge volumes of cans. Injection molding can be done with a relatively small machine much closer to where the can is being used. I would envisage there is some savings around the storage and distribution of cans, also. It’s not simply just a question of material costs.

I would imagine there is a definite weight savings.

Bennett: Yes. But if you can avoid shipping, the weight doesn’t make much difference. Manufacturing containers, storing them and shipping them where they get stored again is very capital intensive. Nobody really wants to do that. Whereas, what I see is…not everywhere, but in areas where there are a lot of fruits and vegetables being produced…


Bennett: Yes. I could imagine that a plant in California could produce the cans, ship them out the next day and they could be filled the next. It could be very, very fast with very limited requirement for storage.

In looking at the efficiency angle, do the cans nest or does the design prevent nesting?

Bennett: The cans themselves as they are today do not nest because we’re trying to produce a plastic can that looks like a metal can as much as we could—so the same shape. They could be made to nest; it’s only a question of the mold. Just like a coffee cup, they could be made in that shape and they could nest. That would save a lot in terms of logistics. The downside of that may be that they don’t look quite like a can and don’t achieve that kind of safety aspect that the industry was looking for.

As well as not be a drop-in for existing can lines.

Bennett: Right. But we’d have to look at that. You may need to make some modifications in order to do that. It depends on how much of a draft you put on the design.

So the structure of the can is not what allows it to withstand the retort? It’s the material?

Bennett: No, it is a design thing. Primarily, it’s in the base. We have a false base that does two things. The first thing is it makes it very stable. And they’re stackable. Those are key advantages.

But inside the base, there is a false foot and a recessed base. This base took an awful lot of effort to get right. What it does, is during the heating and cooling process, it flexes inwards and outwards. It was exactly designed, engineered, so the exact pressures inside this can are compensated for by the flexing of this base. So the pressures inside the can don’t change a lot and that’s why it doesn’t deform. It’s patented. It took us a long time to get there. We used an external design engineering company to help. They did an awful lot of math to work that out.

The important thing is that is forms nicely, it looks uniform and it stacks.

In a lot of instances, not all, as the product goes through retort, it loses some of its attractiveness. Why put something not so attractive in a clear can?

Bennett: I wouldn’t do that. I would color the can. We show it as a clear can because we see a clear market opportunity for, particularly, fruits and vegetables. If you look at the examples we are showing here in our booth, you’ll see the pineapple chunks, the mandarin oranges, the tomatoes, the green beans—they look pretty attractive. They are nice colors and they look appetizing.

Whereas a product that’s less appetizing, dog food, for example. You wouldn’t want that in a clear can. So you would color it. This could be white, black or whatever. A brand owner, if they wanted to, could have a marketing opportunity as well with a colored can. They could also use different labeling techniques. The labels on our cans here are self-adhered labels that we put on after the can was retorted. But you could put an in-mold label in here if you wanted something that is high definition. A lot of options around [decorating].

In that respect, the benefit is still differentiation…

Bennett: Yes, differentiation.

And lightweight…

Bennett: Yes, the fact that is it lightweight. As well as the possibility that you could decentralize manufacturing to reduce the footprint of logistics today.

What about end of life?

Bennett: Good question. I don’t have a good answer this moment. But I do know that there are a lot of products in the marketplace where plastic containers with a metal closure are used today. I’m thinking primarily around the microwavable bowls of soup. There you have, usually, an aluminum end with a plastic container. To my knowledge, those are being recycled. I don’t know how and I intend to find out because a lot of people have asked me about this in the last couple of days. And I want to have a better answer than I do at the moment. I understand that those containers are recycled today. So my answer is that they will be recycled in the same way. I just don’t know how it is.

Fundamentally, steel and plastics are recyclable…provided there is a way to separate the two. I’m sure there are already some smart people doing that.

PepsiCo solves post-fill carbonation challenges

PepsiCo solves post-fill carbonation challenges

This patent assigned to PepsiCo, Purchase, NY, solves a production challenge to produce carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and other beverages by inducing carbonation after filling. One obvious way to carbonate a liquid is to add solid carbon dioxide, but that presents problems—including but not limited to container deformation—that the patent addresses.

In one method, after adding solid carbon dioxide and sealing the container, the development of overpressure is limited through the use of an adsorber material—such as activated carbon—that is included in the applied closure.

Alternately, in-line agitation done at 150 to 200 oscillations per minute for at least 2½ minutes can be used to control the overpressure from the added CO2. The filing indicates that standard production equipment such as vibratory conveyors can be used to provide the needed agitation.