Epstein’s remarks were triggered by AEB’s participation in two conferences: The Food Summit in Chicago and The Global Pouch Forum in Florida. I think Epstein’s right about the potential for growth in aseptic packaging, and there seems little doubt that new technologies for sterilization, including electron beam curing, will play a role.
One of the first food or beverage marketers to use electron beam curing is the U.K. dairy Farmright Group. They began deploying technology provided by Advanced Electron Beams to produce single-serve, 0.44-oz pouches of milk and coffee creamer that have a shelf life of 180 days.
Farmright group technical director Charles Wait says a modified Ropak pouching system is used to produce the Dairystix container. “We take a roll of film and feed it through the EB unit before it comes to the sterile zone of the filler,” he says, adding that film is a critical component. “Operating on a continuous-motion system at these speeds, we only have 220 milliseconds to seal the film. The sealant layer is crucial, as is the UV-light barrier and the oxygen barrier.” Farmright uses a coextruded structure with polyester and ethylene vinyl alcohol.
Dairystix in 200-ct cases are sold to airlines and foodservice distributors. Case erecting and sealing equipment from OK Intl. is used in the case-packaging operation. The pouches also make their way to the retail channel through the Tesco supermarket chain, where cartons of 20 are being sold. A subcontractor handles cartoning.