Food Packaging: Microwave packaging comes of age
The top Diamond Award went to Fall River Wild Rice, packaged in America’s first microwavable retort pouch. The pouch is manufactured by CLP Industries Ltd., an Israeli supplier with offices in Fairfield, N.J. The shelf-stable rice uses a four-ply structure (plus adhesive layers) that substitutes glass-coated PET for foil to create a gusseted pouch that can withstand retort pressure of up to 21.3 psi. Other layers are BONYL, CPP and PET. The standup pouch is reverse printed in eight colors on a gravure press and is laser scored only on the nylon layer for easy opening.
• ASAP Inc., developers of a gumball machine-shaped microwavable popcorn pouch, by LM Packaging Inc.
• Cryovac Simple Steps heat-and-serve, self-venting package for Smithfield Packing Co.’s Premium Entr?line (Food Engineering, April 2003)
• Aseptic plastic bottles from Tetra Pak Inc., applied by DrPepper/Seven-Up’s Raging Cow (Food Engineering, March 2003)
• Gravure printed film using aqueous ink and solventless laminating, by Japan’s Fuji Tokushu Shigyou Co. Ltd.
Fall River Wild Rice is a product of the California Wild Rice Growers Association. The group rolled out a foil laminate pillow pack of cooked wild rice last year at Trader Joe’s stores, but “We were moving into the next generation while we were launching that,” recalls Hiram Oilar, general manager. “We had to get something that screamed convenience to the consumer, and if you have to open the package and put the contents into a bowl before you can microwave it, you’re still one step away from convenience.”
The advent of commercial harvesting of wild rice in man-made paddies has greatly expanded yields and availability, but it has remained a gourmet item with a reputation for difficult preparation. “It’s an expensive product, and people aren’t willing to take a trial on something that is expensive and takes a long time to prepare,” Oilar explains. With retail prices topping $4 for 10.5 oz., the product remains pricey, but microwave preparation takes less than two minutes.
Developers of ASAP Food Products’ microwave popcorn also believe a pouch has to stand up to stand out on today’s grocery shelves, and six-color gravure printing on the zippered pouch adds to the eye appeal. “We have more colors on our bag than any other microwavable popcorn,” boasts Jennifer Deautsch, marketing director of the Solon, Ohio, firm.
The all-natural popcorn also uses sunflower oil, enabling ASAP to stake a healthy-eating claim. “The General Mills and ConAgras can’t fit sunflower oil into their P&Ls,” she says. “People try our product because of the packaging; they come back because of the taste.”
Silver award honorees in this year’s DuPont competition include Foster Farms Fresh & Easy chicken in individual pouches (Food Engineering, June 2003), H.J. Heinz Co.’s Easy Squeeze inverted ketchup bottle, Alcoa Flexible Packaging’s Sure-Peel cohesive peel lidding and ConAgra Grocery Products’ aseptic stick snacks, a refinement of the refrigerated Hershey’s chocolate pudding tubes (Food Engineering, July/August 2002).
For more information:
Jennifer Deautsch, ASAP Food Products, 440-505-2727
John Pahl, CLP Packaging Solutions Inc., 763-550-9905
Kimio Sugiyama, Fuji Tokushu Shigyo Co. Ltd., 81-561-86-8511