Food Engineering

Field Reports: Ready-to-eat Mexican entrees pack a punch

April 9, 2003
Extended shelf life packaging and an automated rollstock system ease production pain and deliver a profit gain.



The prairie sky may be high and wide deep in the heart of Texas, but that’s not stopping San Antonio-based Garcia Foods from putting more prepared entrees on supermarket shelves.

A producer of authentic Mexican cuisine, Garcia Foods introduced ready-to-eat meals in packaging created on Multivac Inc.’s automated R230 rollstock system. Not only does the new packaging extend shelf life to 120 days and provide high-impact branding to attract consumers, the packages consume less material, resulting in a 30 percent decrease in shipping costs.

Compartmentalized trays and uniquely shaped bowls for each of Garcia’s new products are produced on one thermoform-fill-seal system with customized interchangeable die sets. Rapid changeover between dies maximizes system uptime, enabling Garcia to decrease shipping lead times and meet order agreements ahead of schedule.

“Creating packages for our entire line on one system significantly expedited the release of our new products into the market,” says Kenny Garcia, president of Garcia Foods. “We launched our new lines with minimal operating expenses, since we didn’t have to purchase more than one system.”

The R230 produces Multivac Packs™ sealed with a primary pressure seal and secondary tack seal. The packages are made in various shapes and sizes and include easy-open features. According to Garcia Foods’ Plant Superintendent Darren Dylla, the R230 adapted extremely well to the food company’s multiple size requirements. “The five-minute changeover allows production of a complete line of one to five-pound packages, for various customers, on the same system. Inserts are interchangeable to increase package depth and new molds can be seamlessly integrated, enabling further package innovation and introduction of additional new products.”

Garcia Foods introduced ready-to-eat Mexican entrees in packaging created on Multivac Inc.’s automated R230 rollstock system. The new packaging extends shelf life to 120 days, provides high-impact branding and uses less material.
The enhanced productivity shortened Garcia’s shipping lead times. This helped the company expand its customer base and increase sales. “Customers commented on the quality of the package and product, as well as the fact that all order agreements were met on time,” says Garcia.

Garcia Foods’ new system did more than improve output and minimize waste. The packages increased consumer appeal, enabling the food manufacturer to introduce a new product line with minimal risk and high reward. “Success at point-of-sale requires superior package aesthetics to build brand awareness,” says Garcia. “The customized packages increase shelf life, maintain seal integrity, and drive revenue by presenting as an overall quality package.”

“Our ability to package 200,000 pounds of product per week and over 500 cases per hour enables us to operate competitively with larger companies, Garcia adds. “Customized packages and an automated rollstock solution generated the desired increase in both production and profit.”