This year Packaging Digest is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Over the decades, we've seen quite a lot—new equipment, innovation in materials, bright new designs and other exciting developments.
However, none of the stories we've shared since 1963 would have happened if it weren't for you, our readers. You and your packaging industry colleagues are the force behind the evolution of the packaging industry, and you've witnessed everything: the good, the bad, and the hilarious. Here's an example, courtesy of expert packaging consultant Kenneth S. Marsh, PhD, CPP:
In the early 1970s Dunkin Donuts was the largest distributor of coffee. The coffee was roasted and bagged, then shipped via 40-ft. tractor trailers (before the 53-ft became standard). They roasted beans and they were immediately packaged for quick delivery in order to offer the highest quality. The freshly roasted beans are vacuum packed to exclude oxygen and maintain their fresh taste. They had a minor problem with major implications. After roasting, beans off-gas CO2. Since the bags are shipped very fresh, this off-gassing occurs during transport. Picture a truck full of bags of vacuum packed beans, each of which expanded a bit after packing the truck. So you have approximately 2880 cu. ft. of very tightly packed expanded bags that cannot be removed--a bit of a problem for a fleet expecting rapid delivery.
Roasted coffee flavor rapidly degrades in presence of oxygen, so a vented bag was not a favorable option. The packaging group at Rutgers (lead by Sy Gilbert and during which I was a grad student) developed the one-way valve to allow CO2 release while not allowing influx of oxygen. Problem solved and now a standard component for coffee bean packaging.
We'd love to hear your stories, too--"eureka" moments that led to exciting package innovations, lessons learned from mishaps and amusing discoveries. Please e-mail your tales to executive editor Lisa Pierce, or share them in our LinkedIn group.