A Gold Award for Packaging Excellence went to the Heinz Dip & Squeeze Ketchup Retail 10-Count Pack introduced last year by Heinz North America.
As the Dip & Squeeze name suggests, dual functionality is what this package is all about. It lets consumers dip their French fries into the ketchup or squeeze ketchup over their food. The bottle-shaped package has three times the amount of a 9-g film packet, the predominant package in the foodservice space today. It also has a tear feature with a laser score at the top for ease of opening. The right-sized package gives the consumer choice, better control over opening and use, and less mess.
Especially interesting is that while it was initially designed for the foodservice industry, Dip & Squeeze recently migrated over to retail channels, too. There it’s sold in a 10-count folding carton with an open slot at the top to let consumers see the individual packs inside the carton. The carton side panel also has a tear-open feature designed for easy dispensing of the individual packs.
Shelf life was a major concern in transforming Dip & Squeeze from a foodservice concept into a retail innovation. Most of the retail outlets required a minimum of 9 months of shelf life for products sold on shelves. Dip & Squeeze retail cups employ multiple barrier materials to provide shelf life up to 12 months to meet requirements from most retail outlets. This is a major improvement over the foodservice dip cup, which has a shelf life of only 6 months.
The lidding material includes aluminum foil, so barrier properties in that part of the package were pretty much good to go. The key challenge involved modifying the multi-layer structure of the forming web while maintaining the same form, ease of peel in the consumer’s hands, processing speed on line, distribution performance, and physical appearance. Many versions of multiple barrier materials and combinations were tried to find the best fit within a short development time frame.
In the end, Heinz went with Encompass ultra high-barrier semi-rigid forming film from Curwood. Consisting of polyester laminated to a high-barrier sealant web, it’s strong enough to support the weight of the product, flexible enough to squeeze without bursting, and tears open appropriately. The structure is designed to allow for clean, easy opening with no ragged or messy edges. Exceptional oxygen barrier protects against oxidation, which can compromise color and flavor appeal of ketchup, and high moisture-barrier guards against product weight loss.
This package also incorporates an innovative oxygen scavenger into the polyester that effectively stops the ingress of oxygen after filling. Once the scavenger has reached capacity, the high-barrier sealant maintains an outstanding oxygen transmission rate for the remainder of the shelf life. The barrier resins and the oxygen-scavenging technology had to be optimized to work on the new Multivac horizontal f/f/s machines specifically developed for the foodservice Dip & Squeeze cups.
The final phase involved manipulating individual components of the multi-layer structure to maximize line efficiency. Modifications resulted in a major improvement of line-speeds from 11 cycles per minute to an allowable maximum of 15 cycles per minute.