Unsightly seams on package films can result in lots of rework and manual remedies. Fortunately, technology offers some solutions.

Film bunching on round products usually occurs with shrink wrapping, but convection heating shrinks film without dog ears. Similarly, pork chops and other meats that have been vacuum sealed often sport dog ears that need to be trimmed. The issue is resolved with a thermo-form machine from Multivac. Sources: Lantech Inc. and Hormel Foods Corp.

Irregular product shapes can torpedo marketing’s dreams of a slick-looking package, whether in a shrink film or a vacuum pack. Mercifully, machines are pushing the aesthetic envelope to banish duck-foot webbing and dog-eared wrappers.

Fresno, CA-based San Joaquin Figs’ bread and butter products are shrink-wrapped crown packs and finger trays of dried figs. The company used an L-bar machine and a forced-air shrink tunnel to package those products, but dog ears, wrinkles, fish eyes and other imperfections on the round packages resulted in considerable rework, complains Keith Jura, president. “The L-bar machine was like a single-shot rifle that had to be manually loaded,” he grouses, “and the shrink tunnel left hard dog ears of film on our round crown packs.” Holdover work often totaled a pallet load a day or more.

Rather than switch to a premium film, Jura bit the capital bullet and invested in a convection shrink tunnel and a seal bar that cuts and seals with separate surfaces. The cutting blade slits the film a fraction of a second before the seal is made, explains Jean-Louis Limousin, design leader-shrink packaging systems at Louisville-based Lantech Inc. “[Polyolefine] film never really melts” because it only reaches 350

DuPont Awards judges singled out Kraft’s redesign of salad dressing containers as one of the breakthroughs in sustainable-packaging innovations this year. Source: DuPont Co.

Winning packs have enviro-cred

If not for Kraft Foods, US manufacturers of packaged goods would have been skunked in the 20th edition of the DuPont Awards. This year’s citations also were something of a family affair, with two of the winners being the employers of two of the judges, one from UK retailer Marks & Spencer and the other from Kraft.

Almost two-thirds of packaged goods companies will make container changes in the next year to reduce environmental impact, DuPont Co. notes. In recognition of the snowballing interest in sustainable packaging, DuPont scrapped its traditional program and instead cited seven products that would be as comfortable in a Carrefour as a Kroger store. Four of the best-in-sustainability honorees were European packages.

Redesigned Kraft Salad Dressings 16-oz. containers have 7 grams less plastic and a clear label replacing an opaque one. The redesign reduces the overall weight 19%, which translates to 3 million fewer pounds of plastic waste annually, according to Kraft. The bottle supplier is Plymouth, MI-based Plastipak Packaging Inc.

The flip-top bottle surrounds dressings that have been reformulated to remove artificial preservatives and boost the proportion of olive oil and other quality ingredients. And because the container appears smaller, a callout on the neck proclaims, “Fresh New Taste! Still 16 oz!”

DuPont recycled a sustainable idea from the 1990s and now used in Brazil for another of the seven awards. Liqui-Box developed a pouch filling system using polyethylene film, which DuPont renamed the Mini-Sip after acquiring Liqui-Box in 2002. Lower cost and a 70% reduction in trash motivated some school-lunch programs to order milk in Mini-Sips, but dairies resisted the pouch because of the special filler it requires. Tampa-based M&B Products began filling the pouches with water in 2004, and DuPont has taken the idea to South America, adding a corrugated cardboard box but still reducing the cost 40% compared to rigid plastic bottles.

For more information:
Mauricio Santori, DuPont do Brasil, mauricio.c.sartori@bra.dupont.com

The quadrahedron pyramid from Tetra Pak keeps Wild Garden hummus shelf stable and moves the bean dip into the grab-and-go category. Source: Ziyad Brothers Importing.

Fancy-food judges cite single-serve hummus

Healthy snacking in a single-serve format was saluted in the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s 36th annual sofi Awards, which honor packaging innovation and product quality. The judges made Wild Garden Hummus to Go one of the finalists in the outstanding diet or lifestyle product category.

Processed and packaged in a four-sided aseptic pack from Tetra Pak, Wild Garden Hummus to Go is a 2.4-oz. serving that is shelf stable and available in eight flavors. It is packaged in Aman, Jordan, and is imported by Cicero, IL-based Ziyad Brothers Importing. The package retails for about $1 at Cost Plus/World Market outlets and natural food shops, according to Mark D. Smith, vice president of sales.

While retail sales are sporadic, “the product has done extremely well with the airlines and schools,” Smith says. The single-serve package is included in United Airlines’ RightBite box, a collection of natural and organic products judged to be the best of the in-flight snack boxes by aWall Street Journalcritic.

For more information:
Mark D. Smith, Ziyad Brothers Importing, 708-222-8330,mdsmith@ziyad.com