Two other Silver awards for Packaging Excellence went to companies in the fresh-cut produce field one for Ready Pacs Milano salad the other for Manns Microwaveable Vegetables. Because of the super-competitive nature of packaging fresh-cut produce Packaging World was unable to learn many technical details about the two structures. Thats not unusual but at least Irwindale CA-based Ready Pac was able to share the benefits it receives from its new structure from American Packaging Corp. (Rochester NY). Ready Pacs Milano is a romaine-based salad mix that previously was packed in a breathable film package that yielded just 12 days of shelf life. Two years ago the company began to switch to the APC material after testing allowed the company to mark the package for 14 days shelf life. Originally we switched to this material exclusively for those customers that are more distant from our plant says Bill Zinke vice president of marketing for Ready Pac. Because it was only used for a small part of the Milano packaging Zinke says the new material came at a premium price. However after a short period of time we realized that the new material simply gave us a better quality fresher product. So we converted our entire Milano production to the new material. When the purchase volume increased the material became a lot more cost-efficient and more economical for Ready Pac. The breathable material is a lamination using a proprietary clear OPP substrate from APC laminated to a sealant layer. The lamination also has an anti-fog coating. First says Zinke the substrate is unique and the complete lamination offered Ready Pac an oxygen transmission rate that it hadnt achieved before. Thats what caused the 17% increase in shelf life says Zinke which was tested under real-world not optimum conditions.
Reducing store shrink Along with permitting Ready Pac to broaden its distribution into areas too distant for Milano in the past (the Midwest Pacific Northwest and to Canada) the improved quality of the product improves sell-through at retail and cuts the cost of store shrink the disposal of packs that didnt sell quickly enough at the stores. In fresh-cut produce theres a saying that consumers buy with their eyes Zinke tells PW. Few other food products give the consumer a chance to see the freshness of the product through windows and consumers can choose between lots of different brands and products. We want Ready Pac to set the standard for product quality because we know the consumer will only pay for what they think is worth it. We think thats how we can create loyalty to our brand and our products. The graphics are printed flexo in up to eight colors. Weve definitely learned from our experience with this Milano package and weve shifted other products including new products into materials from APC Zinke reports.
Microwaveable veggies Long an innovator in packaging technologies Mann Packing Salinas CA is now using a 2.5-mil breathable laminate from Cryovac Div. Sealed Air Corp. (Duncan SC) to package a variety of fresh-cut vegetables like broccoli cauliflower carrots and blends. What makes the package unusual is that the vegetables can be microwaved without removing them from the bag. Consumers are instructed to puncture the bag before heating. Manns shifted to the new material late last year. According to Cryovac Mann prefers this materials stiffness to promote product presentation and the anti-fog coating enhances the clarity of the film for consumer product viewing. The package is reverse-printed in eight colors to yield an exceptionally glossy finish. Mann Packing had not returned several calls by press time.
These winners reflect the fact that produce packaging continues to be one of the fast-growing markets for flexible packaging.