Headquartered in Baltimore, Phillips Foods, Inc. is a major producer of premium seafood products for the retail and foodservice markets. The company’s extensive product line includes crab, shrimp, lobster, fish, as well as soups, sauces, and seasonings. Phillips also operates several restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic region, in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Rockville, MD; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Washington, DC. Many product offerings also are available on-line (www.phillipsfoods.com).
One of the newest additions to Phillips’ retail line is Steamer Creations™ pouch-packed individually quick frozen (IQF) shrimp in three flavors—Garlic & Herb, Honey Chipotle, and Steamed Spiced. Introduced for sale in May 2008, the peeled, tail-on shrimp are consumer-ready for microwave steaming right in the stand-up pouch in five minutes. Average retail price of these shrimp products is $5.99 to $6.99.
The consumer-convenient, stand-up, self-venting, 8.5-oz (two servings per package) pouches are supplied preformed and preprinted by Flair Flexible Packaging (www.flairpackaging.com). The pouches are rotogravure-printed in six colors.
Phillips manually deposits the shrimp into the preformed pouches, and portioned seasoning flavors are deposited semi-automatically. The pouches are monitored for fill-weight accuracy using a checkweighing machine from Mettler Toledo/Hi-Speed (www.mt.com). A metal detector from Safeline (www.mt.com) also is used in the quality control procedures and detects 2.5 mm ferrous material, 3.0 mm nonferrous, and 3.5 mm stainless-steel contaminants. Ribbon sealing equipment from All Packaging Machinery Corp. (www.allpackagingmachinery.com) applies a vertical band with a 3⁄8-in seal width to the filled pouch. Dwell time for sealing is four seconds at 350º F.
Director of R&D Brice Phillips notes, “This fill/seal operation is satisfactory for our current production volumes. But we are looking at the possibility of automating in the future, if production demands require an upgrade.”
Phillips Foods vp of marketing Honey Konicoff comments, “Flair had a packaging solution that addressed everything we needed—printability, structural integrity, performance, price, and product safety. We wanted a stand-up pouch because we believed that feature was crucial to achieving high shelf impact. But the biggest challenge was that the butters in the microwave-heated product hit a very high temperature that can melt most film packaging structures. We worked very closely with Flair to find the right combination of material to handle this problem.”
Specific structure of the pouch is proprietary. But it contains multiple layers of polyester laminated to heat-resistant polypropylene. Konicoff notes, “The structure has been thoroughly tested and shown to withstand the high heat produced by microwave heating. Flair’s cooperation and support in engineering the new pouch packaging has been nothing short of fantastic. The chief engineer of the pouch, although located in Korea, maintained a relationship with us, as if he were right in the next room. And our U.S. Flair rep was outstanding as well.”