Tomato paste and fresh flowers are among the FPA winners

This year’s top prize goes to a portion-controlled pouch for tomato paste that not only brings a big dose of consumer convenience but also helps prevent food waste.

Highest Achievement Award—Top prize to Conagra
Winner of the Highest Achievement Award in FPA’s 61st annual awards competition is a package that’s sure to make many a home chef mighty happy: a portion-controlled pouch holding 1.5 oz of Conagra’s Hunt’s brand tomato paste. Why that amount? Because it’s the equivalent of two tablespoons, which happens to be the amount most commonly called for in countless recipes requiring tomato paste.

Bemis is the flexible film converter behind the innovative pouch, which is positioned as an alternative to the 6-oz can format that has served admirably for generations. One advantage immediately obvious is that unlike the can, the Hunt’s® Recipe Ready® pouch can be easily opened by way of a tear notch. Also, there is no need for a spoon or other utensil to get the paste out of the container. But the pouch also addresses a need that Conagra brand managers have recognized for nearly a decade: Consumers hate the idea of throwing away the 4.5 oz that remain in a 6-oz can once they’ve opened it for a recipe calling for two tablespoons, yet saving that 4.5 oz is inconvenient. It’s also impractical, because even if one goes to the trouble of saving it, the odds of it getting used before it oxidizes and turns brown are slim.

The millennial-friendly format is also significant because it brings innovation to center-of-the-store aisles. Research shows that 75% of grocery sales are made here, yet 18- to 34-year-olds generally perceive that products carried in the center of the store are unnecessary at best or unhealthy at worst.

Hot-filling is done by a contract packager on a horizontal form/fill/seal machine. The process includes gas flushing, which helps provide a one-year shelf life. According to Robert Knieper, Principal Packaging Engineer, R&I Consumer Pkg at Conagra, the use of ultrasonic sealing is important. “Naturally occurring fiber in the paste makes it especially difficult to create a good seal if any product is in the way,” says Knieper. Ultrasonic sealing produces a good seal right through the product, if necessary.

The BPA-free pouch material is abuse-resistant and capable of withstanding not only hot filling at 185 deg F but also the highly acidic nature of tomato paste, a concentrated product that can degrade most resin-based packaging over time.

The structure is a five-layer extrusion lamination consisting of 48-ga polyester/white extrudate/28-ga foil/extrudate/PE sealant layer. Reverse printing of the polyester on a gravure press is done in seven colors. The saturated and iconic “tomato red” is on full display in botanical illustrations of ripe tomatoes. Dimensional type pops the brand name, using subtle outlines and screened drop shadows. Also called out in a small but highly visible icon is the absence of BPA.

Mess-free dispensing is created by a unique pour spout formed by what Bemis describes as a knurled seal pattern in the film. This feature is barely perceptible with the naked eye, yet it forms a bottle-shaped profile within the rectangular pouch, which tapers to a spout-like opening at the top. The paste is squeezed out through the spout much like a condiment.

From a sustainability standpoint, Bemis points to studies showing that compared to cans

• flexible materials take half the resources to manufacture and produce

• pouches improve product-to-package ratio by up to 35:1

• CO2 emissions are reduced by up to 93%

Moreover, rolls of flexible film take up less space in a truck, providing significant savings in fuel consumption for transport and handling. Finally, the six-pack cartons cube out more efficiently than cans.

Now available nationwide, the pouch first hit store shelves last September. Consumers can purchase a six-count carton holding a total of 9 oz of paste for $2.25 to $3.00. By comparison, the traditional 6-oz can sells for about $1.00.

Supplied by Quad Packaging, the cartons are a 20-pt SBS printed offset in 7 colors. Knieper says a windowed carton now in development should replace the current carton. The idea is to further emphasize that there are pouches inside. “We’ll even re-orient the pouches so that instead of the front panel showing through the window it will be the edges of the six pouches showing,” adds Knieper. —Pat Reynolds

Gold Printing and Shelf Impact—Promo chip bag goes for the gold
For its Bags of Cash promotion, Cape Cod Potato Chips went for the gold in its limited-edition packaging, and succeeded in more ways than one. The bag, converted by Printpack, tweaked the existing film structure of Cape Cod’s pillow-pouch packaging to achieve gold metallic graphics without the use of metallic inks. For this achievement, the Cape Cod Bags of Cash promo package was awarded Gold by FPA in the Printing and Shelf Impact category.

Shares Alvaro Trinidad, Senior Director of Marketing for Cape Cod, the snack maker approached Printpack in April 2016 inquiring about metallized options available to communicate its Bags of Cash promotion and stand out on shelf. “Printpack came back and showed us options of different film structures, and we ideated and brainstormed against it,” he says.

The bag typically used for Cape Cod Potato Chips uses a white background and features the company’s kettle-cooked chips front and center. For the promotion, the company filled the bottom half of the bag with illustrations of a gold, metallic money bag and U.S. dollars.

The film used for the everyday bag is constructed of a white extrusion layer between a matte oriented polypropylene print web and a metallized heat-sealable OPP layer. Because of the white extrusion layer, Cape Cod does not need to use a white ink plate to achieve the bag’s white background. For the promo package, Printpack changed the white extrusion layer to a clear matte OPP extrusion layer that allowed the metallized OPP layer to be visible under the print layer in the promo-specific areas.

As with Cape Cod’s existing bag, the promo bag was printed using extended-gamut technology, with six colors—CMYK + orange + Pantone 289. The EGP coupled with yellow ink over the silver metallized layer created the gold appearance. “With this promotion, we just amplified the benefits of extended-gamut printing,” notes Trinidad.

The Bags of Cash promotion ran from mid-August 2016 to early January 2017, with 4 million bags produced for the campaign. According to Trinidad, both Cape Cod’s sales organization as well as its retailers were excited about the promotion. “It was a very unique package and better communicated the essence of the promotion,” he says.

Obviously, FPA agrees, with judges saying, “the package creates interest, curiosity, and shelf appeal by combining matte film with metallic images.”—Anne Marie Mohan

Gold Extending The Use Of Flexible Packaging and Technical Innovation—Film keeps cut flowers fresher longer, without water
Called “the Holy Grail of oxygen and water barrier for packaging fresh produce” by its supplier, India-based Uflex Limited, Flexfresh™ film is now being used to extend the life of fresh flowers for up to 10 to 15 days without water versus four to five with traditional packaging methods. Submitted to the FPA Awards by Uflex division Flex Films (USA) Inc., the Waterless Internet Flower Packaging solution grabbed two Gold awards: one for Extending the Use of Flexible Packaging, and another for Technical Innovation.

As Uflex Vice President, Flexfresh, N. Siva Shankaran explains, Flexfresh is a “proprietary polymeric composition” that can be custom-engineered as either a mono- or a multilayer film. When used to package fresh flowers, the film maintains the hydration of the blooms by allowing them to breath in hydrated oxygen and release excess humidity, keeping them dry to the touch.

“The biggest enemy to fresh cut flowers is condensed humidity, leading to Botrytis [grey mold],” explains Shankaran. “Oxygen is the second biggest enemy, as it catalyzes maturation. With Flexfresh, the humidity is not allowed to condense, keeping the product dry, and with less oxygen available, the flowers breath less as well, reducing the humidity and heat generated by respiration.”

Partnering with Uflex to create Flexfresh for flowers is PerfoTec B.V., which uses its Fast Respiration Meter® to determine the respiration rate of the flowers along with software to calculate the required film permeability. PerfoTec also supplies an Online Laser Perforation System® that uses the software-generated respiration data to adapt the permeability of the film through micro-perforations.

As Shankaran explains, different flowers have different respiration rates, based on their genetics, the amount of water they receive, their growing conditions, and other factors. “Hence it is important to ascertain the respiration rate of the specific flower and arrive at the accurate transmission value to determine the perforation matrix for the film,” he says.

The Waterless Internet Flower Packaging solution is targeted at e-commerce flower companies and flower retailers, allowing them to keep flowers fresher longer and potentially eliminate “millions of gallons” of water from the supply chain, says Uflex.

In a typical fresh cut flower supply chain, after flowers are harvested, they are brought to the pack house for a quality check, sorting, and cleaning, after which they undergo a short hydration cycle. The flowers are then stacked in bunches, packed in corrugated cases, and put into refrigerated storage, which maintains a temperature of zero to 1°C. Flowers are then transported to the airport and then delivered to the retail destination. Once there, the flowers require rehydration. From then until they are sold to the consumer, they are kept hydrated in buckets of water.

In contrast, with the Flexfresh film solution, retailers (e-commerce or brick and mortar) can flow-pack the flowers in the micro-perforated film, with the proper transmission bringing down the oxygen level inside the pack. Packaged in Flexfresh, the flowers stay fresh and dry for up to five days without water and are guaranteed to remain fresh in a vase for up to seven days after the consumer receives them.

With water no longer needed by flower shops or by couriers transporting them to the consumer, “the use of millions of gallons of water in the supply chain is alleviated,” reads Uflex’ FPA entry form. The company adds, “Elimination of water also increases the product volume-to-weight ratio. This means that one truckload can accommodate more flowers, thereby reducing the number of trips required for transportation of the same quantity of flowers. This further helps in reducing the carbon footprint, besides bringing down the logistics costs and associated handling.”

The savings in water and the reduction of trucks on the road are not the only sustainability aspects of Flexfresh. In addition, the film is constructed of a proprietary blend of biopolymers that make it biodegradable via composting, certified under DIN EN 13432 (2000-12).

One of the first users of the new flower packaging cited by Uflex in its entry form is Dutch e-commerce flower retailer BloomPost Nederland B.V. According to Shankaran, BloomPost began using Flexfresh film in Q2-2016, packaging their flowers via an Ulma Packaging (www.ulmapackaging.com) flow-wrapping machine, with in-line laser scoring to actuate the exact transmission required for the bouquets.

Shankaran relates that BloomPost has realized a number of advantages from using the film. “Flowers remain fresh and hydrated, there have been no instances of Botrytis, and there has been very positive consumer feedback,” he says.

Shankaran also shares that Uflex is testing the viability of using Flexfresh to bring flowers from harvest to market by sea freight. “Once it is implemented,” he says, “it will result in a significant carbon footprint reduction and will enable longer storage of between 30 to 40 days from the time of harvest.” —Anne Marie Mohan

Gold Technical Innovation—Breather bag earns recognition for strength, tear resistance and sustainability
For applications including hospital supplies, surgical packs and gowns, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals, Amcor Flexibles’ Fortis™ breather bag offers strength, tear resistance, and fiber-clean peels that benefit medical facility workers.

Amcor’s Fortis bag earned an FPA Gold in Technical Innovation as a patent-pending medical breather bag used for items sterilized prior to use in operating rooms and other medical settings. Both the material and the bag are designed to result in a stronger, more abuse-resistant, cleaner package. Fortis is also designed to provide an improved user experience and a reduced impact on the environment. Fortis bags are sold in sizes typically ranging from 8x10 in. up to 48x48 in., holding products that can weigh as much as 30 lb.

Jesse Blake, Marketing Director, Medical North America, Amcor Flexibles, notes that Fortis development began in 2013. “We felt there was a need in the market for something new,” he says. “There hadn’t been any development for 20-some years for this type of package. We wanted to design something that was easy to open and provided an aseptic presentation to allow users to tear open the header in the aseptic field.

“We also sought to control cost and downguage material thickness for sustainability,” yet still provide a barrier for any sharp objects within the pack. Blake says using uncoated Tyvek® (from DuPont) was a key as it provides the necessary breathability.Once prototypes were developed, commercial orders followed, beginning in late 2015. Blake points out customers believe Fortis gives them an edge and for competitive reasons, they don’t want to divulge they are using the award-winning bag.

Amcor manufactures the film in Mundelein, IL, on equipment that enables one-color in-line printing capability; up to 10 colors if printed off-line. Amcor uses a blown film extrusion process, developing Fortis materials that can range in thickness from 2.5 to 5 mil, depending on customer application requirements.

Blake explains the bag employs two film layers plus an uncoated Tyvek strip for the header that is heat-sealed to the film, creating a peelable seal. It incorporates layers of nylon that deliver strength. The structure, he adds, “allows for downgauging when compared to a linear low-density polyethylene-based bag. That results in less mass in the waste stream, and the use of uncoated Tyvek reduces the overall carbon footprint,” he says. Plus, he notes, the bag is produced without using coatings or an intermediate peel layer under the header.

Customers can fill products or surgical kits into the Fortis bags manually or semi-automatically. As the photo here shows, products are often placed within a blue-covered back-table cover within the Fortis bag. When the operating room worker removes the product from the bag, the table cover serves as a drape, with any surgical devices on top of it, thus helping to maintain a sterile environment. —Jim Butschli

Gold Extending The Use Of Flexible Packaging and Packaging Excellence—SPLASH Ice Melt resealable Shaker Bag provides precise application of granular products
Cleaning snow off driveways, sidewalks, and steps in nasty winter weather is a real pain that’s often followed by the “joy” of scooping ice melt out of a heavy container and throwing it onto dangerous, icy areas.

In recent years, we’ve seen clever packaging step up to make our lives a bit easier, with rigid containers employing closures similar to seasoning bottles that allow consumers to shake out salt/ice melt onto areas in need.

Now, Precision Color Graphics and Factory Motor Parts (FMP) offer a flexible alternative to meter out ice melt. The new SPLASH® Ice Melt resealable Shaker Bag is designed as an advanced distribution tool for the precise application of granular products, in this case ice melt. It features an internal metering gusset, a reclosable zipper, and a heavy-duty handle that’s part of the bag itself.

A winner of two FPA Gold Awards—for Packaging Excellence and for Extending the Use of Flexible Packaging—the Shaker Bag is an adhesive lamination consisting of a two-ply construction of 48-ga matte polyester laminated to a 0.006 white linear low-density polyethylene blend. Total thickness is 0.0065 mils.

Phil Howard, Packaging Engineer at PCG, explains that prototype designs of the Shaker Bag were initiated in 2015, working with FMP on the design of the pouch to best enable metering of granular product from the gusseted bottom of the stand-up pouch, which allowed for retail shelf display.

FMP is one of the first adopters of the shaker bag technology. FMP is a Minnesota-based, locally grown, family-owned business with a global reach that started in 1945. The company provides premium original equipment and name-brand automotive products for retail outlets, service facilities and distributors.

The SPLASH brand is known for its windshield washer products, de-icers, ice melt, antifreeze, and related products. The SPLASH Ice Melt resealable Shaker Bag comes in 8-lb and 10-lb varieties.

From a sustainability perspective, the Shaker Bag provides source-reduction benefits. The 58-g Shaker Bag is replaces a 198-g rigid container. As a result, the pouch reduces inbound and outbound shipping costs because an inbound trailer load of 12, 096 empty gallon jugs is now replaced with two 38 x 40-in. pallets of pouches. Outbound freight is also enhanced with an extra two skids per truckload from the reduction in the container weight.

Beyond its consumer convenience and sustainability advantages, the SPLASH Ice Melt resealable Shaker Bag delivers great shelf impact. Its structure is reverse-printed on a mid/wide-web flexographic central impression press incorporating a doctor blade metering system. Printing is done in seven colors, using Kodak NX-Flexcell 120 line-screen plates. Printing and laminating is done by Plastic Packaging Technologies.

Prepress output is handled by Precision Color Graphics’ Specialty Packaging Technologies Inc. division, which converts the finished printed roll-stock into the finished consumer pouches. This process includes pouch converting and inlineinsertion of the metering gusset, micro perforation, and the addition of a zipper that permits resealing,as well as an EZ open feature thanks to laser scoring.

FMP’s SPLASH Ice Melt resealable Shaker Bag is sold across the U.S., in major retail outlets. “We’ve been extremely happy with the customer and consumer response. Re-orders are already flowing in,” reports Jay Litsey, FMP VP of Marketing. —Jim Butschli

Gold Printing and Shelf Impact—High-barrier stand-up pouches
Stand-up pouch packaging for Nudges® Grillers Dog Treats, distributed by Tyson Pet Products, Inc., is the recipient of a Gold Award for Printing and Shelf Impact. The high-definition nine-color flexographic printing on the 5-oz pouches delivers realistic detailed graphics of a happy dog on a field of green grass with a blue sky above.

The pre-formed pouch is made of a 4.5-mil adhesive lamination of 48-ga polyester and a multilayer coextrusion that includes a layer of EVOH for gas-barrier purposes. The clear polyester layer is where the nine-color printing resides. Custom-manufactured and printed by American Packaging Corp., these pouches feature display windows for visual product inspection and reclosable zippers for enhanced consumer convenience.

“Nudges Dog Treats has great success in store due to many packaging considerations,” says a Tyson spokesperson. “The Nudges packaging utilizes a large window for easy visibility of the product, so there are no surprises at home. The creative utilizes a blue sky and green hills to convey a fresh and natural feel, which also provides visual breakthrough at shelf. We see treat-giving as a joyful time for both the pet parent and the pet, and with the easy-to-read ‘Made in the USA’ and ‘natural ingredient’ claims along with a large image of a happy dog, the packaging clearly supports this emotional bond between the pet parent and the pet.” —Judy Rice

To view photos of the Silver winners, go to pwgo.to/2683.

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