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Articles from 2018 In September

How U.K. consumers really feel about grocery packaging recycling
What do shoppers think about sustainable packaging? If the packaging isn't recyclable, 80% want it banned from grocery stores.

How U.K. consumers really feel about grocery packaging recycling

Exclusive insights into a survey of 1,000+ consumers offer comparisons to and advice for U.S. markets and brands.

How do you find out what consumers think about packaging and recycling? That’s an easy one to answer: you ask them.

But exactly how can that be done in numbers large enough to be statistically viable is an entirely different matter. However, that’s where the expertise of companies like Toluna comes into focus as an invaluable resource for brands and others wanting to get a pulse on consumers for essentially any topic, region and/or consumer segment. The company’s Insights on Demand proficiency enables a way for “businesses to obtain insight and understand constantly shifting consumer sentiment and taste in the on-demand economy.” In short, the company has available some 21 million consumers globally who will help provide poll results in hours.

James Pickles, director, corporate client sales, Toluna, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions about the firm’s U.K. Consumer Recycling Behavior Survey conducted last month.

Let’s start with some background about  the company and this particular survey.

Pickles: Toluna, which has 24 offices globally including in Wilton, CT, has significant experience in the consumer insights industry. We conduct surveys for all types of clients from consumer packaged goods companies to retailers and others. One of the many reasons we are an ideal partner in this space is the development of automated solutions for package testing, shelf testing and more. We couple this with respondent access.

We recently hosted an event where Kerry Foods, in addition to TetraPak, presented a case study. Kerry Foods spoke about the dynamic changes in the supermarket space, which was an area we wanted to learn more about on behalf of our clients.

What are the basic metrics for this survey?


  • 1,003 total respondents in the U.K. in these age brackets: 18-34 (34%); 35-54 (36%); 55+ (30%);
  • Total male respondents (35%); total female respondents (65%);
  • Respondents answered the survey on August 15th, 2018.

What’s your reaction to the results?

Pickles: The survey results indicate that both brands and grocery stores are delivering measurable results in making it easier for consumers to recycle. This is based on the fact that more than 50% of respondents state that they find it extremely or very convenient to recycle product packaging from grocery stores. In addition, close to half of respondents believe that consumer packaged goods brands do a good job in providing clear recycling labels on product packaging.

With the signing of the U.K. Plastics Pact earlier this year, grocery stores and brands should definitely allocate efforts into thinking about how consumer recycling behavior and attitudes are changing and adapt to this changing landscape. Considering that more than 50% of respondents are likely to change their grocery store preference based on the offering of recyclable packaging, retailers should definitely act on these consumer attitudes and keep these consumer choices in mind when making decisions about which brands to sell at their stores. That is the new competitive advantage for retailers of food packaging products.

What were the key findings?


  • 80%+ of U.K. consumers make an effort to recycle grocery products.
  • Only 17% of those surveyed don’t find this to be convenient—52% find it very/somewhat convenient.
  • More than 50% feel that consumer packaged goods (CPG) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies do a good job in providing recycling instructions.
  • Recycling is an important factor when selecting a grocery store and products purchased, and close to 60% state that a brand’s commitment to the environment makes shoppers more loyal to the brand.  

What were the most surprising results?

Pickles: Nearly 80% of respondents feel that non-recycled products should be banned from grocery stores. Similarly, almost 40% are more likely to shop in a grocery store that sells recyclable products than one that does not, almost 60% would change their store preference as a result of this.

What about that 81% always make an effort to recycle—that’s impressive. Was that expected? 

Pickles: This is a surprising percent in some markets, but not in the U.K.  This country/market has always been keen to recycle.

What are the takeaways?

Pickles: Recycling and eco-friendly choices are important to consumers.  These can drive purchase decisions, and encourage people to shop differently.  Most feel that companies/brands make recycling easy, but there is opportunity to stress eco-friendly packaging and differentiate.

What influence may there have been from the signing of the U.K. Plastics Pact?

Pickles: Likely to have been influential, but don’t I believe the results would have been significantly different.

For our U.S. audience: Can you comment on the general state of recycling in the U.K. vs. stateside?

Pickles: According to a recent survey conducted by the Carton Council of North America, 61% of Americans state that they always recycle their food and beverage cartons, compared to 80%+ of U.K. consumers who say they always make an effort to recycle grocery products.

That being said, there is not a government-wide initiative in the U.S. as there is in the U.K. with the Plastics Pact, so government involvement and endorsement are likely to encourage U.K. consumers to recycle more than U.S. consumers.

What advice would you have for brand owners?

Pickles: With close to 60% of respondents stating that a company’s commitment to the environment makes them more loyal to a particular company, brands should be at the forefront of helping to boost recycling efforts and be committed to reducing waste overall.

The full survey results can be found here.


MinnPack 2018 (October 31 – November 1, Minneapolis) is part of the Midwest’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event that brings you the latest in materials, automation, packaging and more. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Integrated automation products make packaging machines smarter

Integrated automation products make packaging machines smarter

A new portfolio of automation products, called Pak/iQ, targets the pain points of end users deploying smart packaging machines. Pak/iQ machinery parts and code can be used with bottling, pillow-pack and wrapping equipment to increase production, reduce downtime and lower total cost of deployment.

From Mitsubishi Electric Automation Inc., Pak/iQ “can be described as a complete offering of automation products and value-added solutions designed for the packaging industry to achieve smart manufacturing, predictive maintenance, integrated robotics and engineering productivity,” says Lee Cheung, product marketing engineer with Mitsubishi Electric.

Designed to run on Mitsubishi’s iQ modular, programmable automation controllers, the Pak/iQ product line includes both hardware and software. The products comprise controllers, servos, robots and human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that can be combined in custom solutions tailored to specific user needs.

Pak/iQ incorporates machine learning algorithms, which provide end users with easy machine setup and efficient tuning. In addition, secure remote access affords real-time checks on machine status, from anywhere. Machine performance is geared to high response and accuracy, with synchronized servo motion control and closely integrated controls and robotics.

The portfolio also includes pre-configured diagnostic/maintenance screens and operator screens and an application code library for faster development of packaging machinery and HMIs (a boon for original equipment manufacturers).

Cheung and Elaine Wang, senior product marketing engineer with Mitsubishi Electric, jointly answer Packaging Digest’s questions about Pak/iQ.

How does Pak/iQ boost the intelligence of smart packaging machines?

Cheung: Pak/iQ offers real-time analytics, push notifications of critical events and remote visualization of the status of a packaging machine. The additional capability to push manufacturing data to a database also allows an end user to track key performance indicators (KPIs), identify areas of concern and plan ahead for consumables and spare parts. This solution bridges the gap between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).

How can Pak/iQ lower the cost of deploying smart packaging machines?

Wang: Pak/iQ brings IT-level technology within the capabilities of controls engineers, so OEMs can develop value-add features without needing to hire additional IT engineers.

Pak/iQ can also save engineering development time of packaging machines, which normally is a big portion of adjustable cost.

How do the packaging machines communicate with the iQ controller? What is the communication protocol?

Cheung: The iQ controller is the brain of a smart packaging machine. Although a variety of communications are supported to connect upstream and downstream equipment, we recommend CC-Link IE Field, which is a deterministic 1-Gbps [gigabytes per second] network with the capacity and guaranteed speed to deliver time-critical information where it needs to go, without risk of data collision.

Can Pak/iQ be used to retrofit an existing packaging machine?

Wang: Yes, Mitsubishi Electric has a network of systems integrators that can help retrofit existing packaging machines. Furthermore, Pak/iQ solutions enable the latest technology, to allow customers to stay ahead of the packaging industry.

How does Pak/iQ help reduce unscheduled downtime and increase production?

Wang: Smart servos continuously tune to minimize wear-and-tear and ensure peak performance. Predictive maintenance capabilities allow component health of relays and servos, and enable mechanical stress levels to be monitored so that maintenance can be scheduled just-in-time, decreasing the amount of downtime.

Can you give us a packaging machine example of how Pak/iQ enables machine learning? What is the benefit?

Wang: A case packing machine picks a pack of loads and places them into a carton, facilitating productivity and machine throughput by machine learning. A machine learning tuning function allows machines to handle different load weights without any transfer-process impact.

How does Pak/iQ simplify robotic integration?

Cheung: Mitsubishi is the unique company offering products from controllers, servos and variable frequency drives (VFDs) to robotic products. Robotic integration is very complex due to handshaking procedures and making things work between the robot and other devices it must communicate with. With Pak/iQ, communication between a sequence controller and the robot controller is automated on a single high-speed backplane, for simple implementation and highly accurate operation.

What does Pak/iQ track, from an operational point of view?

Cheung: All machine data, including sensor readings and remaining component life, can be customized and read by the user.

What is the benefit of having information for operators and maintenance engineers in the same controller, via the Pak/iQ pre-configured diagnostic, maintenance and operator screens?

Cheung: By including diagnostics and maintenance information on the machine itself, there is never a question of where to find documentation, enabling quick and efficient maintenance.

What’s the benefit of Pak/iQ’s fast motion control response time to the machine user?

Wang: Motion control response time is not the only factor to improve machine performance. Fast motion with full synchronization by the compact PLC for continuous-motion form-fill-seal machine, for example, is a Pak/iQ outstanding benefit for OEMs, too.

Are all the features of Pak/iQ available as standard, or are some optional and included at an extra cost?

Wang: Certain features are inherent in the hardware products, whereas others are available through additional options.

Does a machine builder have to use solely Pak/iQ products, or do Pak/iQ products work in conjunction with products from other manufacturers?

Wang: Individual Pak/iQ products will provide incremental benefits, but a complete system of Pak/iQ products will unlock the full benefits of Pak/iQ.


Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.

The Legend of Bagger (No) Chance: Beware of that old packaging equipment!
Beware the pitfalls of refitting a packaging machine for a new project. Square peg? Round hole? (Photo source:

The Legend of Bagger (No) Chance: Beware of that old packaging equipment!

Are you involved in the implementation or modification of aging equipment with the objective of producing packaged food products? Packaging consultant Gary Kestenbaum has some thoughts for you to consider as you tackle a retrofit project.

The challenge seemed reasonable enough. Collaborate with an experienced internal packaging equipment tech and the manufacturer’s field service rep to adapt a horizontal form-fill-seal (HFFS) bagger to fill snack nuggets into multi-serve metallized film bags with reclose. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

I lined up internal and external support resources, ordered the film and an abundance of zipper rolls, scheduled the plant trial and was off and running, or so I thought.

A colleague of mine in packaging tech overheard my optimistic approach to the project’s potential for success and said to me, “I’ve been to that plant and worked with that machine. It was adjusted and configured to run a specific structure and we had a heck of a time getting that to work. So be very careful about your expectations”

Forewarned, I called the manufacturer’s tech rep and posed the question to him. He replied, “That (particular) machine is not what you think it is. It was sent back to our facility years ago, rebuilt and modified in multiple ways to run (whatever) film/bag. Our experience is that both before and after modifications, it’s been…touchy. The paperwork on that rebuild does not exist.”

Not being an equipment engineer, I absorbed those comments, but figured that my internal equipment counterpart—a guy known in the company as a miracle worker or a magician with a wrench—could figure out any issues.

When we all assembled to face the monster for the first time, we quickly determined that the process was broken from end to end. The film roll transport, zipper applicator, forming stations, sealing equipment, bag transport, dosing mechanism and so on and so forth were all inconsistent with the targeted application. Adjustments to each section and station would initially appear to bear fruit, but only for a minute or two of continuous production. After that, one or more faults in the packaging process would require a stoppage. We were wasting more materials getting past start-stop cycles than we were accumulating saleable packages.

It quickly became clear that the warnings from multiple sources were on target and under-considered. The project was allotted limited resources, and we grossly exceeded those as we, internal tech support, spent trip after trip trying to get to the underlying problems.

Literally months and multiple trips later, we were both left pulling our collective hair out. My colleague refused to give up; this was a matter of pride! He proceeded to make retrofits, adjustments and replaced parts from the film unwind reel to the discharge. No part or station went untouched after countless hours of hands-on work, long after the manufacturers tech rep had run out of ideas. Everything except the frame was replaced or rebuilt.

It got so dire that we ran out of what at the time appeared to be an overabundance of zipper stock and ended up driving 50 miles south of the plant to mooch a roll from another manufacturer that I found online (the plant materials manager was kind enough to give us the roll at no cost).

In the end, the collective cost of time, parts and materials grossly exceeded the value of the project, not to mention the deployment of resources that were needed on much more profitable businesses elsewhere in the company. After all that effort, the bagger functioned, but machine speed and reliability were clearly below the standards for low-tech HFFS baggers.

As I look back on the project, the information available to me at the time pointed to a low chance of success based on simple packaging process standards and norms of consistency, reliability and integrity at suitable production speeds.

In my career, I can name several high profile situations wherein production facilities elected to use old fillers capable of functioning with one single “inflexible” film structure, often converted by a single source supplier. In every case, the combination led to either a packaged product failure in the field, a scramble to qualify a new vendor or a shutdown of the equipment. Ultimately, in each case, the equipment/film combination was scrapped and replaced with alternate baggers/fillers capable of machining film structures that were easily sourced and reliable.

In extreme cases, use of equipment with a product or in a manner outside of the design configuration and usage designation described by the manufacturer may facilitate serious microbiological failures, facilitated by the inability to effectively attain or maintain sanitary conditions.

The lessons learned are clear: Know the history and limitations of the packaging machinery that you are being asked to support. Pull the history on it by manufacturer and serial number just as you would a Carfax report. Inquire as to the original application when it was ordered and made. Ask whether it was rebuilt, retrofitted or otherwise modified by the manufacturer or any other entity.

If there are gaps in that information stream, replete with lots of “ums,” “ahs,” and “I don’t knows,” beware! Could the equipment have been purchased second hand from a broker? Was it modified, rebuilt or retrofitted? If so, were those changes designed and approved by the original manufacturer? Were the changes documented with caveats and limitations clearly described? Are the limits on adjustments, change parts or calibration processes a mismatch to the raw and pack materials designated for production?

Be aware of the multitude of risks associated with trying to convert packaged foods using mismatched components. Risks may include core food safety categories of physical, chemical or microbiological hazards. Verify the performance compatibility, suitability and regulatory compliance of the systems against checklists coupled with the process capability and risk assessments executed by qualified functional experts.

Even then, proceed methodically and with caution. Validate and verify each step before certifying the system as production-capable.

This is an old phrase, but you’ve all heard it: We never seemed to have the time or funds to remove and replace underperforming process equipment before a field failure, but we always find the time and funds to perform corrective action after the fact.


Gary Kestenbaum is an independent food packaging consultant with 45 years of experience in the food industry as a food ingredient technician with National Starch, a food product developer with General Foods and Kraft Foods, a senior package developer with Kraft Foods and a senior food packaging safety consultant with EHA Consulting Group. He can be contacted at


Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.

5 environmental advantages of corrugated packaging
Are you worried about the ecological effect of your packaging? Corrugated might be the answer.

5 environmental advantages of corrugated packaging

With more and more businesses being scrutinized for their environmental impact, it’s more important than ever to turn to responsible packaging choices. When considering shipping options, brands want to know about the environmental effects of the materials they use, along with how they can reduce their carbon footprint.

With eco-friendly solutions in high-demand by consumers, brand owners are aware of the benefits of using more sustainable packaging, such as paper-based corrugated. As ethical shopping has become integral to the purchasing process, customers are now looking to select brands based largely on which ones are making a reasonable effort to be environmentally friendly.

So, if you’re thinking about using corrugated packaging, here’s how it might help your business support responsible sourcing while also considering the environment.

1. Corrugated packaging contains recycled content and is recyclable.

The main ecological advantage of corrugated boxes is that they are made from a high percentage of recycled paper, think cartons or newspaper, and can be recycled again after they have been used. Similarly, most corrugated packaging is made without dyes or bleaches, meaning it can be disposed of more sustainably than other types of material that contain contaminants.

2. Corrugated packaging is renewable.

Manufactured from paper pulp, corrugated packaging is predominately made from timber from fast-growing pine trees but can also be created from woodchips and leftover materials from a range of paper-making processes. Plus, most corrugated packaging is made up of around 70% to 100% of recycled material.

Suppliers that make large amounts of corrugated packaging usually harvest materials from managed, sustainable forests—and replace harvested trees with seedlings to begin the process again.

3. Corrugated packaging is reusable.

Not only is corrugated packaging easily recyclable and renewable, but it can also be reused as is, helping to further reduce packaging costs and the environmental impact. Many corrugated case styles are designed to be easily collapsible, and fully reusable. 

Most boxes are not instantly disposed of, so why not make the most of their durability? Corrugated is known for being a solid, sturdy solution that can carry a range of weights—so cases can be used over and over for an array of products.

And when cases reach the end of the line, consumers can still reuse them for storing documents or as floor protectors when redecorating, for example. And, when they are finally done with them, consumers can simply recycle them.

4. Corrugated packaging helps to save energy.

Another benefit of corrugated packaging having a high percentage of recycled components is that it requires less energy to make. Rather than producing cases from 100% virgin materials, most corrugated manufacturers make products from locally sourced recycled content—which also minimizes environmental damage caused by excessive transportation.  

5. Corrugated cases offer efficient protection for your products.

Many businesses today are creating right-sized boxes for their products to help cut down on the amount of material waste. Doing so can also go a long way towards helping reduce your business’ carbon emissions when it comes to shipping and transport. Since boxes are usually rectangular—meaning they can easily and neatly stack with little space wasted—it allows businesses to fit more products into a smaller number of vehicles, which makes a huge difference to a company’s carbon footprint.

Barry Tabor is managing director of British Converting Solutions North America LLC, which offers a range of box making machinery to suit various packaging needs. For more than 30 years, BCS has been a leading provider to international businesses, and it won The Queen's Award for Enterprise for international trade in 2016.


Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.

Eco-conscious shipper ensures frozen baby food stays that way
Online baby food entrepreneur picks compostable insulated cushioning to protect frozen products during shipping.

Eco-conscious shipper ensures frozen baby food stays that way

Square Baby’s dietician-developed baby foods and meal plans are good for little ones, and the company’s supply-chain packaging is good for the environment. Its cold-chain shippers, designed with compostable insulation instead of difficult-to-recycle expanded polystyrene (EPS), keep Square Baby products frozen from the time of packing until delivery at the consumer’s door.

Vericool Inc. supplies the temperature-controlled packaging, which uses a corrugated box and starch-based insulation. The box features an internal collar that encases the insulation; the corrugated used in the box and collar is made from post-consumer materials. To separate the compostable insulation from the recyclable box and collar, the consumer opens the bottom flaps of the box and pushes down on the collar to release the insulation.

Katie Thomson, co-founder and CEO of Square Baby, and Darrell Jobe, founder and CEO of Vericool, answer afew questions about the packaging.

How long has Square Baby used the Vericool packaging?

Thomson: When we were developing Square Baby, we knew that the package that delivered our meals was a critical piece of the customer experience. When we launched the company this July, 2018, we were thankful to collaborate with Vericool, which helped us ensure parents were receiving their baby’s food in a healthy and environmentally friendly cooler. And it also happens to be beautiful. We love that the packaging is 100% recyclable and compostable.

Is the Vericool insulation home or industrial compostable, or both?

Jobe: The film and the insulation in the Vericooler I and the Vericooler Plus are home and industrial compostable. The insulation in the Vericooler III Plus is home and industrial compostable. [Note: Square Baby uses the Vericooler I model.]

Who has certified the Vericool materials as compostable and recyclable?

Jobe: Vericoolers are all TUV certified, meaning that the insulation is home and industrial compostable. The Vericooler I and the Vericooler III are WMU certified recyclable. This insulation meets U.S. ASTM D6400 and Home Compost standards.

How are you communicating the package’s end-of-life options to consumers?

Jobe: We print step-by-step instructions directly onto our packaging to make it as easy as possible for consumers.

Is the insulation waterproof?

Jobe: We protect our insulation with water-resistant materials. We design each customer’s packing fulfillment to protect the product and keep it cold—and ensure that it arrives at the consumer’s doorstep at the right temperature up to 96 hours after packing.

Could the packaging be used to ship chilled foods?

Jobe: Meal products can be shipped at frozen and at refrigerated temperatures inside Vericoolers.

What temperature range can the packaging accommodate?

Jobe: Meal products are shipped as low as -10 deg C and up to as high as 20 deg C.

Is anything extra required in the shippers to maintain the products’ cold temperature?

Jobe: Dry ice and frozen or refrigerated gel packs are used to maintain the products’ cold temperature.

How have consumers reacted to the Vericool packaging?

Thomson: Feedback has been great! Our meals are delivered just as they should be—frozen and ready to pop in the freezer or refrigerator to defrost right away. Our customers have been blown away by the unboxing experience, and Vericool packaging has been a big part of that positive experience.


Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.

5 ways conveyors improve packaging productivity
Efficient placement and use of conveyors can improve packaging line productivity and optimize plant floorspace.

5 ways conveyors improve packaging productivity

Quick, efficient and accurate packaging is a crucial part of manufacturing and related sectors, especially for companies dealing with food products or pharmaceuticals. Conveyors have always been important elements of this process, even if they aren’t always taken as seriously as they deserve.

In the past, conveyor belts might have been meant simply for movement of goods from one point to another, but the technology used in these systems has advanced to an amazing degree.

What can conveyors do now?

Today, conveyor belt scales and other components of a conveyor system can automate and streamline practically every aspect of packaging. Along with the movement of parts and products, these systems can sort, weigh and monitor loads to make packaging flow management smoother and ensure quality of packaging.

This leads to higher productivity and better performance, with fewer errors, risk of damage to goods, wastage of resources and other benefits. All in all, increased automation means higher returns, which drives your business ahead of the competition.

How do conveyor systems help business efficiency?

Here are five top ways conveyor systems help improve productivity and efficiency in packaging operations:

1. Automated movement of goods—Conveyor belt systems automate the movement of parts and products, which increases throughput tremendously. It also reduces the time, cost and labor involved in manual operations, and leads to an increase in packaging productivity, even for companies with a smaller workforce. With higher output and more efficient processes, returns are higher as well.

2. Lower energy consumption—By automating the movement of goods, conveyor systems ensure that packaging processes are more energy efficient. Many systems can also be set up so only specific sections are running at a certain time, reducing energy use as well. Along with reducing your carbon footprint, this also has a major impact on the cost of daily operations and return on investment (ROI) for your business. 

3. Reduced risk of accidents—Workplace safety is one of the most important elements of a successful business, but manual movement of parts and products poses a high risk of injury. Conveyor systems take away a lot of this risk for your workers, by reducing exposure to machinery, heavy loads and other hazards. Increased automation also lowers workloads, making employees happier and more productive.

4. Higher accuracy and reliability—Along with increasing the speed and safety of product movement, conveyor systems also ensure that a high level of accuracy is maintained throughout the packaging process. For example, conveyor scales can be integrated with existing warehouse management systems for data collection and analysis, and can also help with sorting, weighing and tracking at every stage of operations.

5. Maximizing floor space—For packaging, warehousing and distribution facilities, floor space tends to be at a premium. This isn’t an issue with conveyor systems, which can maximize the use of available roof space and be customized to fit each area of the facility. By using overhead space and routing components around any obstacles, these systems allow for larger workspaces on the floor for other tasks.

With proper planning, the right conveyor system and associated components can ensure that packaging operations happen faster and more accurately. If you invest in a smart system that can be easily adapted to different container sizes, you will also enjoy greater flexibility.

Kevin Hill

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.


Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.

Ecommerce/Supply Chain
IoT enables supply-chain transparency for food safety and recalls
Sensors connected to the The Internet of Things enable supply-chain transparency to increase food safety.

IoT enables supply-chain transparency for food safety and recalls

OSIsoft taps the Internet of Things and a distributed network of sensors to increase fresh and packaged food safety through prevention and responsive recall capability.

Consumers’ relationship with food is changing—they demand transparency about its contents and origin–and is for good reason. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1 in 10 people are sickened yearly from eating contaminated food leading to 420,000 deaths.

Given these sobering statistics, manufacturers are under increasing pressure to track and trace food from farm to shelf, quite an undertaking that requires leading-edge technology. For example, blockchain can be used in the cold chain to track food every step of the way.

Major brand owners including Hershey, Kellogg’s, Tyson Foods and Deschutes Brewery are using OSIsoft's technology to not only protect food, but to improve operations and cut costs. Tyson uses OSIsoft sensors and data to track and monitor temperature control of their products to ensure food safety and prevent recalls.

Packaging Digest sought to dig deeper into the intersection of the Internet of Things and food safety, and tapped the expertise of Mariana Sandin, Pulp and Paper Industry Principal for OSIsoft, and Jeff Van Pelt, Global Food & Beverage Industry Principal at OSIsoft.

What’s a high-level view of packaged food recalls?

Van Pelt: Food recalls spiked more 92% in the U.S. from 2012 to 2017 (tracked by the Stericycle Recall Index), in part due to a more complex supply chain and, to some degree, better reporting and tracking. Bacteria, undeclared allergens and foreign substances were the big culprits. A recall can cost $20 million or more, along with, of course, risking the public’s health and damaging a brand. But here’s the good news: they’ve been declining since late 2016 with greater awareness and more action from producers.

What’s not working with the way things have been done traditionally?

Van Pelt: It’s a very complex supply chain. Ingredients are harvested internationally from multiple suppliers, processed into an ever growing selection of foods and then shipped across broad geographic areas.  The growth of the industry and the growing demands of customers have really challenged the industry to keep up.

How does a recall work?

Sandin: The FDA determines a mandatory recall of certain products. It is up to the importer to verify that the suppliers comply with new FSMA regulations. Food and packaging manufacturers are responsible for having a system of record and good documentation of the items being shipped. So, going back to packing and the RFID codes, the batch number pointing to the date and place of manufacturing can help to target a recall, instead of recalling all products from all plants during the summer season.

How does IoT technology fit in as an enabler?

Van Pelt: Think of IoT as nervous system for the industrial world. With IoT technologies you can track shipments or trace changes in temperature, moisture or other factors that can have an impact on food quality. Not only can you find problems quicker with this technology, you can narrow the scope of recall

How much of the overall recalls could be addressed with an IoT solution?

Van Pelt: From a production standpoint, IoT solutions can drastically reduce recalls from issues like labeling, processing defects, physical contamination, chemical contamination etc.  The main cause for recall in the food and beverage industry is microbiological in nature, with the majority of cases involving fruit and produce.  IoT and sensor information can be used to detect issues further upstream in the supply chain, and while it can assist in reducing these cases in general, it is crucial to recognize the contamination prior to production.

What are the key advantages of this high-tech solution?

Van Pelt: Ingredients and completed foods will change hands several times before a consumer buys them. IoT can give you, potentially, a complete picture of a product’s life cycle. You can’t do this with clipboards and periodic inspections.

What infrastructure is needed?

Van Pelt: You need sensors or some sort of measuring device along with a data infrastructure that lets you capture data, share it, and send the necessary alarms. The technology has been around for a while. The key is how it gets implemented.

How much would an IoT implementation cost?

Sandin: The cost of IoT wireless sensors can be few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the scope. As for the cost of a data infrastructure, it also depends on the scope and the corporation. Different business models like subscription are on the rise, which should lower the cost of entry for new prospects.

What’s needed to make that happen?

Sandin: Today, the packaging industry is doing its share as with technologies radio-frequency identification or Batch ID codes. With supply chains, having data—think of this a horizontal IT layer that lets people share and access machine data—removes the barriers of communication between the food manufacturer and the packing supplier. Some IoT sensors today still have the challenge of battery life, but trailer trucks or other vehicles can definitely monitor the environment those boxes are moved around.

What’s happening with this kind of solution?

Sandin: The PI System has a system of record for their operational data for a number of companies in both food and paper. What is interesting is that both food and paper manufacturers are adopting IoT to help ensure product quality and brand integrity. In some industries, the IoT discussions revolve around cost or energy reduction. By contrast, in food and paper, brand integrity is often the paramount concern.

What else do brands need to know?

Sandin: IoT serves as a tool to remove the collaboration barriers between food manufacturers, regulatory agencies and the final customer that can be retailers or consumers. IoT increases transparency of information and helps to deliver better products throughout the supply chain.

Mariana Sandin’s background is in Chemical Engineering and she has an MBA with a concentration in Economics from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX. She has more than 10 years of experience in real-time data solutions, and is passionate about helping the process industries transform their world with the power of data.

Jeff Van Pelt is responsible for industry strategy, segment development, thought leadership and ensuring customers drive value from their technology investments. Van Pelt is a 30-year veteran in the consumer products industry in a variety of roles. Prior to joining OSIsoft, he held industry executive positions at IBM and SAP.


MinnPack 2018 (October 31 – November 1, Minneapolis) is part of the Midwest’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event that brings you the latest in materials, automation, packaging and more. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Foodservice packaging trends point to future developments
Tamper-evident foodservice packaging helps reassure consumers that the product is safe to eat.

Foodservice packaging trends point to future developments

Trends in foodservice packaging often emigrate to the retail sector, and vice versa. So keeping an eye on what’s happening in the foodservice industry can benefit all consumer packaged goods manufacturers.

Packaging Digest recently touched base with Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), to get her insights on key topics in the market. Here is what she has to say on sustainability, meal distribution options, consumer safety and convenience, and ecommerce delivery challenges.

Compostability seems like the best end-of-life for foodservice packaging because, unlike recycling, it isn’t as negatively affected by food contamination. What is the industry doing to improve/advance the infrastructure of compostability in the U.S. and how will that change the industry’s sustainability goals?

Dyer: In our eyes, there is no “best” option for recovering foodservice packaging after it’s been used, as it’s pretty complex, given the various products in the mix and the available infrastructure to collect and process the materials.

Composting is certainly a great option, and we have been studying the state of the current infrastructure. For example, based on data collected last year, we’re able to pinpoint where there are composters that accept foodservice packaging, and yet nearby communities aren’t accepting in these items in their programs. On the flipside, we have identified composters that may be already taking food scraps, but not yet packaging. Those are great targets for us and help to expand the infrastructure to process these valuable materials.

In terms of changing the industry’s sustainability goals, that’s to be determined. We’ve seen numerous foodservice operators select compostable packaging for a myriad of reasons, whether they have a local composter that will accept the material or not. Expanding the composting infrastructure will help to close the loop and get those compostable items actually composted.

What new consumer trends are you seeing and how do they impact packaging choices/designs by brands?

Dyer: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing now is the uptick in off-site sales. An increasing number of foodservice establishments that were thought of as traditional dine-in eateries are now offering delivery and catering options to grow their sales and please today’s on-the-go and time-crunched consumer.

The main impact on packaging, then, becomes performance of the packaging itself. Consumers want their hot foods hot and their cold foods cold. Meals must arrive looking consistently fresh, without condensation saturating the packaging—or the foods. This has always been the case, but there are additional performance pressures when it’s 45 minutes from kitchen to table, versus two minutes. Plus, in the case of catering options, different packaging sizes may be required.

Finally, the packaging provides an opportunity to promote the foodservice brand so the consumer keeps coming back for more.

It’s important for the consumer to see the food inside grab ’n go items.

Looking ahead, what smart packaging concepts from the retail side can foodservice suppliers use and to what/whose benefit?

Dyer: Smart packaging concepts like time and temperature indicators could be applied so consumers know that the hot foods stayed hot, cold foods stayed cold, and everything is safe to eat.

As more online players (like Amazon) get in the foodservice business, what packaging innovations might we see moving forward?

Dyer: The distribution channels in the foodservice industry are changing, and online purchases are just the latest example. That’s one of the reasons we’ve seen growing interest in tamper-evident packaging. Prepared foods and beverages are no longer just passed over a counter, from kitchen to consumer. They may be prepared at a central commissary then transported to the store for purchase, or perhaps prepared in a restaurant and then delivered via driver, drone or robot (yes, robot!) to the consumer.

Also, consider that as the buying process changes, so might the needs of the packaging. If it’s a “grab ’n go” item (which we see a lot of in stores these days), it’s important that the consumer can see the food inside. After all, people “eat with their eyes.” If food is ordered online and shipped to the consumer’s home, how the food looks when it arrives—and whether it’s still hot or cold—is more important.  


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‘Note-able’ Frito-Lay snacks packaging allows consumers to get personal
Ink-friendly “talk bubble” area on Limited Edition back-to-school Frito-Lay Variety Pack snack bags is ready for personalization.

‘Note-able’ Frito-Lay snacks packaging allows consumers to get personal

Snackable Notes Variety Snack Pack bags can be personalized by parents and others to encourage their children at school.

Summer’s wind-down period in August signals the start of a new schoolyear, which is a time of adjustment for kids, parents and other family members. Say goodbye to relaxed schedules and carefree lifestyles and hello to school-centered structure and routine and limited family time together.

This lifestyle changeover period can be an anxious time for many.

According to a recent Frito-Lay Variety Packs survey, 75% of parents worry about their kids’ happiness while they are at school, and 81% stated that they seek ways to give their kids encouragement when they are apart. That’s why Frito-Lay Variety Packs, a flagship brand in PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, offered parents a simple and convenient way to provide love and encouragement during the school day with the launch of Snackable Notes.

Available July 8 through September 8, specially-marked Frito-Lay Variety Packs contain snack bags that have a specially printed “talk bubble” on which parents can write a note of love and encouragement directly on their kids’ favorite Frito-Lay Variety Packs flavor. The program offers a fresh modern twist to the classic lunch note and gives mom and dad a new and creative way to connect with their kids during the school day when they're apart.

“Back-to-school is a tough transition for the whole family that can be stressful for parents and kids,” says Rhasheda Boyd, director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “It’s the little things that matter most as parents look to help ease kids back into the school year. That’s why we wanted to inspire parents to share a little love and encouragement in an easy way by dedicating space on our Frito-Lay Variety Packs packaging to write a special lunch note.”

Boyd fills in a few blanks about the program for Packaging Digest readers.

How many variety packs/individual packs were involved?

Boyd: We have three participating Frito-Lay Variety Pack SKUs [stock-keeping units] in the promotion (20ct Classic Mix, 20ct Flavor Mix and 20ct Doritos & Cheetos Mix). Inside of those specially marked packages you will find a variety of flavors, 10 in all—Cheetos Crunchy, Cheetos Puffs, Doritos Nacho Cheese, Doritos Cool Ranch, Lay’s Original, Lay’s BBQ, Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion, Fritos Original, Fritos Chili Cheese and SunChips Original—that contain a speech bubble where consumers can easily write a note.

This ties into the trend of personalized packaging, but does it tap any other consumer-engagement opportunity?

Boyd: Frito-Lay Variety Pack’s Snackable Notes program touches on the trend of parents wanting to connect more with their kids when the school year starts. Families go from spending long summer days together to more regimented schedules and less time together when school begins. So the idea of the Snackable Notes program is to give parents another touchpoint of loving communication to their family during the school day.


Please confirm that is not a label, but a special printed area on the bag film.

Boyd: There is no special label. It just involved a design change to create the white speech bubble area. There were no challenges in the development process. Our current print vendors were able to print the new design with our normal film.

Has Frito-Lay done anything like this before?

Boyd: Frito-Lay has done thematic graphics on bags before; however, this is the first time that the Frito-Lay Variety Pack team has created thematic packaging that carves out dedicated space to write a note on the bag.

What have been the results or feedback and is that in-line with expectations?

Boyd: The results and feedback have been tremendous. Our consumer relations team has fielded many cute notes and we’ve seen really great engagement on social media.

One-piece CR closure eases application and opening
Because the new SecureCap QuarterLoc closure is molded in a single part, it saves about 25% in material compared with typical two-piece closures, offering a more sustainable option.

One-piece CR closure eases application and opening

Two-piece push-and-turn child-resistant (CR) closures are notorious for being hard to open and reclose, causing user frustration, as well as potential cocked caps during application on the packaging line. The new SecureCap QuarterLoc one-piece closure solves those issues, while also reducing material weight by at least 25% and production time/costs by eliminating a second piece along with any assembly.

Developed by Comar, the polypropylene SecureCap QuarterLoc is a single molded part that requires just a quarter turn to apply and/or to open. This severely reduces the potential for mis-alignment and/or cocked caps, helping to eliminate user aggravation. The new closure passed Consumer Product Safety Commission testing protocols for child resistance and senior-friendly performance, and is suitable for a variety of over-the-counter pharmaceutical or nutraceutical products.

SecureCap QuarterLoc closure easily integrates into existing packaging lines, and can be adapted and scaled for different products. Because of the linerless design, brand owners do not need liners, but they can use standard foil induction liners or inline conduction liners if they choose. Softer ribs on the closure skirt make it more comfortable for consumers to handle. Audible and tactile closing adds a measure of security for users.

Sue Benigni, Comar’s business segment director for Consumer Healthcare, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the new product.

What held back development of a single-piece push-and-turn CR closure in the past or why is this development do-able now?

Benigni: Single-piece CR closures have been available in the pharmacy in a design with open pockets on the sides for amber vials. The Quarterloc is manufactured using Comar proprietary molding technology, which allows solid sides for a more robust, secure and familiar look.

What were the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) child-resistant/senior-friendly test results of this new closure?

Benigni: Comar’s 625cc Round Pet Bottle/53mm SecureCap QuarterLoc Neck Finish Consumer Product Safety Report meets standards for poison prevention packaging evaluation per current C.F.R. Title 16, Part 1700.02. The package performed well for senior adults and children.

Why is it important that the closure is opened and closed with just a quarter turn?

Benigni: The quarter turn eliminates thread mis-alignment, cocked caps and the possibility of incomplete application. The reduced rotational distance to achieve a positive closure is also a benefit to seniors, especially those with reduced dexterity.

Does the quarter turn design also simplify closure application on the packaging line?  If so, how?

Benigni: Yes. The application of the QuarterLoc closure requires only a quarter turn to apply and eliminates the potential of mis-aligned threads and cocked caps. The package is not torque dependent—there are no application or removal torque requirements. There is also no thread back-off after application.

Are modifications to the capper needed? Why or why not?

Benigni: Based on conversations and trials with several capping equipment manufacturers, the capping equipment must be capable of handling the closure size. And requirements for change parts are consistent with the change to a new closure.

There is no maximum torque requirement—10 to 15 inch-pounds is sufficient for application.

If an induction seal is required, down force is required at the time of seal activation.

Do bottle neck threads need to be redesigned to accommodate this closure?

Benigni: Yes, a custom bayonet-style thread is required. The closure’s design accommodates the growing trend toward square bottles because it allows for perfect alignment every time.

Does Comar also supply the PET bottles?

Benigni: Yes, the QuarterLoc is offered as a complete packaging system.

It is available in just one size, 53mm, correct? Any other sizes expected in the future?

Benigni: Currently, 53mm is available. A complete family of sizes are under development and will be prioritized based on market demand.

How much has the closure weight been reduced and how?

Benigni: Part is 25% to 35% lighter (unlined) than an equivalent two-piece push-and-turn CRC.

How much less expensive is this single-piece closure and compared to what?

Benigni: Cost savings are dependent upon several factors that are proprietary, but one can do the math on the material costs alone.

How much faster is production of this one-piece closure versus a comparable two-piece one?

Benigni: The manufacture eliminates the assembly step of mating the inner and outer components of a two-piece closure.

What did you do to make the side ribs softer?

Benigni: We increased the width and depth.

Is the linerless-seal part of the closure’s design, even if using a liner?

Benigni: The closure is not designed for use with liquids. However, the system meets USP 671 Tight Container Integrity requirements. Liner use is optional.

Any customization (color, top graphics or paper/foam liners) is an added cost, correct?

Benigni: Yes, as with any existing closure. But the molds are designed to accommodate customization at a modest cost.

How has market reaction been to this new closure?

Benigni: Reaction has been very positive from leading brands and retailers that value sustainability and cost savings.

Are any pharmaceutical or nutraceutical companies using this closure yet?

Benigni: Production quantities have just been made available. Customers are confidential for now, but will be on the market soon.