Food Engineering

Faster fill speeds help justify packaging change

April 11, 2003
High-end products demand premium packaging, and the conventional valve bag with a vertical seam down the middle of its back just wasn’t cutting it for Green Mountain Coffee Inc. So in April the Waterbury, Vt.-based roaster began converting more than 60 coffee varieties to a new Corner-Seal bag from Fres-co System USA.

Engineering drove Green Mountain Coffee’s conversion to corner sealed bags, which are filled faster and support better graphics than the bags they replace.


High-end products demand premium packaging, and the conventional valve bag with a vertical seam down the middle of its back just wasn’t cutting it for Green Mountain Coffee Inc. So in April the Waterbury, Vt.-based roaster began converting more than 60 coffee varieties to a new Corner-Seal bag from Fres-co System USA.

Given that the new package is easier to open and supports better graphic presentation, it’s the kind of conversion that typically occurs at the insistence of marketing executives. But engineering drove Green Mountain’s conversion.

“Contrary to popular belief, engineering does come up with some good ideas,” deadpans Paul Comey, vice president of facilities and process engineering. He championed the conversion project, which required the purchase of two GL 14 vertical form/fill/seal machines to replace two older units from Fres-co. The new lines fill about 40 bags a minute, a 42 percent improvement. The f/f/s units also perform a gas flush, a growing trend away from vacuum packaging for upscale grinds and whole-bean coffees.

“Setting up the label application was an integral part of the conversion,” Comey adds. To minimize changeovers, three printed bags are used—green, beige and dark brown—and a blend-specific label is affixed after filling. A “significant upgrade” to the labeling unit makes the process much more precise, he says.

Green Mountain’s retail products are sold in 10- and 12-ounce bags, typically in the $6.50 to $9 range. All four corners of the bags are sealed, helping them retain a squared-off look on store shelves, even after shipping. The composite film is lacquered over a matte finish to distinguish it from the glossy look of other soft-sided valve bags. Once the f/f/s conversion is complete, Comey hopes to reduce film thickness.

For more information:
Chris Burger, Fres-co System USA, 215-721-4600, www.fresco.com