FPA honors innovation

Hershey’s pudding packs and technology for self-venting trayed entrees, first commercialized by Smithfield Packing, earn Highest Achievement honors from The Flexible Packaging Assn.’s 2003 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition.

Twenty-one packages received 27 awards out of a record-setting 87 entries in this year’s program. The awards program includes four categories: Packaging Excellence, Technical Innovation, Environmental Achievement, and Printing Achievement. Winning packages can earn the Highest Achievement, gold, and/or silver award.

For the third year in a row, two packages tied for the Highest Achievement award. One was Hershey’s-brand tube- or stick-packs of puddings from ConAgra, Irvine, CA. Focused on children, the refrigerated puddings ride the wave of portable, utensil-free snack foods that replace cups and lids. The packs also earned an Environmental Achievement silver award and a Technical Innovation gold award.

The film structure from Curwood (www.bemis.com) is a 75-ga metallized PET/adhesive/2-mil sealant. The sealant incorporates an ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer. The outer layer is reverse-printed flexo in eight colors.

The 2.25-oz packs provide a tear notch on the end for easy opening. The 8 1/4”x1 1/2” tube packs are aseptically filled eight-up at 400 packs/min on Stick Pack Model 2030 form/fill/seal equipment from Hassia USA (www.hassiausa.com) at a Swiss Miss plant in Menomonee, WI. The packs are claimed to be the first portion-controlled aseptic stick pack on the market. Although capable of being merchandised as shelf stable, the puddings are sold refrigerated in eight-count cartons at retail and have a one-year shelf life.

Smithfield’s commercial ‘first’

Another FPA Highest Achievement award went to a technology from Cryovac Div. of Sealed Air (www.cryovac.com). Formerly known as Darfresh, the technology is now known as SimpleSteps. It was first commercialized by Smithfield Packing Co., Smithfield, VA, for a line of 17-oz entrées. The trayed entrées are thermally processed, chilled, and overwrapped in colorfully printed film.

SimpleSteps eliminates the need to puncture ventilation holes in the film before heating. Instead, the vacuum-skin film “tents up” as the product reheats, then self-vents and “relaxes” over the food. The “stay-cool” handles reduce the risk of burns or spills in removing the tray from the microwave.

The breakthrough centers on a polypropylene-based tray that’s surface-laminated with an EVOH self-venting sealant. After filling, the tray is sealed with a 6-mil coextruded vacuum skin packaging (VSP) film, also with EVOH barrier.

Smithfield’s entrees are VSP-packed three-up at rates to 35 trays/min, using new T570CD equipment from Multivac (www.multivac.com). The equipment runs at Smithfield’s Valley Dale Foods plant in Salem, VA.

Kool-Aid pouch stands up

Kraft Foods’ Kool-Aid Jammers’ stand-up pouch with attached straw won a Member’s Choice award from FPA to go along with a silver award for Technical Innovation. While Kraft wouldn’t provide packaging specifications, materials are believed to include a film structure used for the front of the pouch that includes reverse-printed polyester/metallized/polyester/sealant layer. Printing is done by Alcan (www.alcan.com) in eight colors.

For the back of the pouch, the structure uses a clear polyester laminated to a five-layer coextrusion that includes EVOH. Pliant (www.pliantcorp.com) makes both of these materials, sending them to Alcan for lamination.

The multilayer film replaced a foil layer to allow consumers to see the beverage through the back of the pouch, while the structure maintains barrier properties for flavor and vitamin retention. The film also withstands the high temperatures required for filling, while providing a pack that stands up and stands out on the shelf with its visual appeal.

Please click here for complete FPA coverage. For more information, contact Linthicum, MD-based FPA at 410/694-0800, or visit www.flexpack.org.

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