Finding great success in the European market, especially in Germany, due to packaging material regulations, Formost Fuji’s ground meat wrapper, which flow-wraps ground meat without the foam tray, is making its U.S. debut at PACK EXPO International. The FW3710B box-motion, wet-duty stainless steel wrapper can handle ground meat loafs up to 35 to 40 lb. in an 8-in.-wide format at speeds to 120/min plus.
The most notable advantage of the new packaging system is the elimination of the non-recyclable polystyrene foam tray traditionally used for this type of product. “That’s the obvious benefit,” says Lee Benton, South Central sales manager for Formost Fuji. “Another advantage would be related to shipping of the product. It currently takes three trucks to ship product packaged with foam trays for every one trailer truck of ground meat product without the tray.”
Removing the tray also eliminates the need for packagers to purchase, ship, store, and handle the trays. “Customers aren’t getting three or four truckloads a day of trays, so they’re able to reduce the footprint in their warehouse because they need less storage space,” Brenton remarks. “They can also reduce the amount of labor they have, which is a huge challenge for everyone right now. Just having someone move trays around the plant all day is kind of a waste when you don’t have to do it. You can then use those people somewhere else in the plant.”
Another benefit of the new process is that it eliminates a number of machines currently used in the tray packing process. “End users can take out three machines from their current line because they no longer need a tray denester, a tray wrapper, and then an overwrapper to wrap three or four finished packs in a master pack,” Benton explains.
He adds that with the current tray-wrapped packs, the shelf life for the ground meat product is typically around 24 days, if the package stays within the master pack. Once it’s removed from the master pack for display at retail, the shelf life is just four to five days. Packages produced using the Formost Fuji system offer a 24-day shelf life with 18 to 20 in. of mercury on the seal test, Benton shares.
The system uses a polyethylene film with an anti-fog coating that can be preprinted with branding information.
Formost Fuji is currently working with a major ground meat producer in Nebraska to test-market the packs in a regional grocery retailer.