While everybody was concentrating on what happened at Interpack, some new developments were launched in another part of the world by companies not present at Interpack. Let’s see what they offered. As I wrote in my previous article that many an exhibitor had given one or more of his “novelties”, developed and launched during the recession, a polishing, you see a similar attitude outside Interpack. Various “old” designs and technologies, sometimes evaluated into new application fields, and often with a new coating, were launched in the market again.
oPTI swirl bottles
Some years ago Plastic Technologies (PTI) launched the lightweight, foamed PET bottle technology, which promised eye-popping structural and graphic capabilities, paired with cost-effective production and sustainability. And indeed the Jamba Juice bottle was introduced.
At that time, in 2008, Nestlé chose Product Ventures, a branding agency, for the development of a new bottle, which should accentuate Jamba’s characteristics, such as health, refreshing and enjoyable.
Product Ventures created a sculptured design, which is supposed to imagine ‘freshly squeezed fruit’. The result is a twisted bottle, which fits pleasantly in the hand.
And now Ohio-based Plastic Technologies (PTI) is relaunching its oPTI PET bottles. Two German firms are pitching in. The Foboha cube mould system is designed to maximize cavitization and minimize cost for overmoulded parts. The cube-mould system is coupled with the Ferromatik Milacron’s injection moulding platform, reportedly resulting in an increased number of cavities in the mould, increasing the output.
The oPTI process can use any standard PET bottle-grade resin. The difference occurs with what is done to the resin during the injection process. Since PET is a highly recyclable material, the objective is to keep all of those attributes. One of the benefits of oPTI technology is it creates an attractive and highly-differentiated container without negatively impacting its recyclability.
The oPTI technology provides a broader range of PET container aesthetics and performance capabilities. For example, the process enables white or silvery coloured bottles to be made without additives that limit packaging recycling.
White oPTI bottles provide an environmentally friendly option to conventional bottles, which use additives to achieve a similar tint. Instead of being a contaminant to the clear recycling stream, white foamed bottles will mould into a transparent bottle after remelting and subsequent processing.
In addition to white or silver, blue and green hues also can be used, since those colour streams already exist in traditional PET recycling. The technology also is capable of producing bottles in a variety of pastel colours (amber, yellow, pink, etc.); however, these cannot be recycled as part of the clear PET stream.
The bottles have a unique surface feel and provide tactile “traction”, minimizing slipping. The process blow-moulds details more prominently, which enables decorations (such as embossed logos) to stand out better.
The bottles are made in four basic steps: nitrogen is injected into the melt through the barrel on a modified perform moulding machine to form a single-phase solution of polymer and gas, then foam is produced as cavity-fill pressure is dropped below nucleation pressure during the injection cycle.
Foam cells expand as gas is diffused into bubbles; processing conditions are used to control cell growth in the finished perform. The preforms are blow-moulded on conventional, unmodified blow moulding machines to produce the foam bottles.
Invento Americas launched dual-material beverage containers, composed of transparent PET bodies and aluminium ends. According to the company, the container improves the performance and branding potential of conventional cans and bottles, and it can be produced on existing can-filling lines.
The firm is gearing the packaging toward soft drinks carbonated water, energy drinks, and bright-coloured beverages. The cans can be filled on existing can lines with minimal changeover, and placement of the aluminium ends uses the same seaming technology as conventional cans.
The containers come with standard 200 and 202 diameter aluminium ends, and volumes ranging from 12 ounces to 16 ounces, and 250 ml to 500 ml. Custom shapes, colours, embossed and debossed containers can be ordered.
Frozen Yogurt Pearls
The strawberry- and coconut-covered frozen-yogurt bonbons look familiar and tasty enough. But these bite-size treats are not just another dessert. They are the first of a new wave of sustainable food products made to replace plastic packaging with natural, edible food skins.
In this case, the outer layer is actually fruit. Its design is inspired by cellular structure, and it serves both as a thermal barrier and a protective membrane for what’s inside. These Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls have a handmade look and a familiar frozen-yogurt tang. The exterior maintains its strength and holds the contents even as the centres begin to thaw, releasing little more than a bit of moisture. Stonyfield touts the product’s ability to be handled without damage.
The organic yogurt maker collaborated with WikiFoods Inc. to develop the skins. Made from organic fruit by Harvard professor and WikiFoods founder David Edwards, the skins are similar to grape skins. They can be placed straight into your grocery bag, washed and handled, without being damaged.
The Frozen Yogurt Pearls are packaged in cellulose bags for storing in the freezer. Stonyfield sees the minimal biodegradable containers as a first step toward eliminating packaging entirely.
Getting consumers comfortable purchasing foods in nothing more than edible packaging will take both time and attention to product basics, says Karen Martinsen Fleming, director of the Sustainable MBA program at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt. “I could easily imagine this kind of product being served in a yogurt bar or some sort of service-based retail establishment”, Fleming says. “But the supermarket format will require more thinking because now you’ve introduced product integrity and safety issues”.
And indeed health and hygiene are among the challenges ahead for selling products without packaging on grocery shelves. Customers are more likely to purchase something not only if it’s graphically packaged, but protectively packaged as well.
Stonyfield admits that there’s a big hurdle for the unassuming yogurt snacks.
Shelf-stable real egg breakfast
“Eggs are a great source of nutrients. Just one egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and antioxidants”, says Mitch Kanter, Ph.D., executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center. “Real eggs, paired with another protein-rich accompaniment and additional nutrient-rich foods, help provide consumers with a nutritious start to their day”.
We talk about real eggs. While other packaged food producers have introduced frozen shelf-stable microwaveable dishes, or shelf-stable meals with egg substitute, none have produced real eggs in shelf-stable products. With the launch of its Compleats Breakfast convenience meals, Hormel Foods puts actually the first microwavable meal with shelf-stable eggs on the market.
The processing technology facilitating shelf-stable egg products came after a lengthy, intensive development period. The product is produced via a proprietary retort process, housed in the same PET trays used for the other entrees in the line. The method combines emerging technology with old-fashioned methods to extend shelf life.
The breakfast additions, ready in just 60 seconds, is intended to meet the needs of consumers, hungry for protein and starved for time, looking for a morning meal they can prepare quickly at home or the office.
During the CPMA show in Vancouver Westmoreland/TopLine Farms won the Best Product Award with TopLine Creations. The company came up with the idea of trying to give the consumers something extra with the purchases they normally make by adding some flavour infused olive oil.
These individual olive oil packs are moulded into the clamshell and offer the consumer an extra option to enjoy the product. There are different flavoured oils to choose from like Sweet, Spicy, Sweet and Spicy or Balsamic. The consumer can choose to enjoy the produce on their own or add some olive oil for a salad on the go, just rinse, drizzle and enjoy.
I like to add one more innovation.
Zego energy bar with QR-code
You could say that’s not very special. But it is. Zego leverages an interactive Quick Response code to inform consumers of the energy bars’ allergen content at the batch level.
Like most energy bars, Zego bars are made in a shared facility, where cross contact with allergens is possible, even though careful control procedures are followed. While most manufacturers simply place a generic warning of potential cross-contact on their packaging, Zego goes further by allowing consumers to see exactly how much of a potential allergen might be in their bar’s specific batch.
Zego wanted to raise the bar of information available for its consumers related to allergen levels. Initially, it looked at printing the allergen information directly on the packaging. The challenge was that, if the packaging were printed domestically, the packaging would need to be printed three weeks before the production run. If printed overseas, the lead-time stretches to several months. Either option made it impractical to have the allergen levels printed on-package.
That’s when the QR-enabled allergen information breakthrough came about.
The QR scan leads to a specific website page showing users the measurable amounts of specific levels for six major food allergens: peanuts, almonds, eggs, soy, dairy and gluten. Indeed an effective use of the QR-code.
So, that happened outside the Interpack.