Each week, ThePackHub Insight Director, Sue Burden, includes her interpretation of a new piece of packaging, looking at it from consumer’s point of view and drawing conclusions about the insights behind the innovation.
Find out more about the insight expertise offered by ThePackHub here.
There are many benefits to both consumers and manufacturers from using Vacuum Skin Packaging (VSP) . For manufacturers it extends shelf-life and reduces waste. For consumers it presents meat or fish steaks very attractively – with the transparent film vacuum-packed directly on the product, it is easy to appraise it on shelf and the meat or fish appears shiny – fortunately consumers semiotically associate shininess with freshness in meat and fish.
So far, so good, with a win-win scenario for manufacturer and consumer. However, packaging for consumers is of course more than just appearance. There is, for example, the important question of ease of opening (the EZO aspect, as it’s called in the USA). This was brought home to me last weekend, as I wrestled to release a couple of salmon steaks from their attractive VSP.
Trained by years of pulling on a tab of film at the corner of chilled food trays, I struggled to separate the upper film from the tray, conscious that it would be preferable to do this without flipping the contents out onto the kitchen floor. Using scissors to cut open the tray would unfortunately create sharp edges and would also make rinsing the film and tray for recycling more of a challenge (…any tiny food scraps left on plastic encourages the foxes). After a significant effort, a small margin of the upper film did separate from the tray. However, to try to remove the upper film any further required that conclusive proof of packaging being non-EZO – use of a pair of pliers!
Whilst it is a good idea for meat or fish not to leak juices from their packaging, I am not convinced that it is necessary to have an adhesive seal that is arguably strong enough to protect low-grade nuclear waste. Indeed, other vacuum skin packs I’ve used have been 100% leak-proof and also possible to open without resorting to the DIY tools. If you’re responsible for products sold in VSP, please check the EZO qualities!
Using Consumer Insight to be aware of what the consumer needs all the way through to in-home usage is what creates truly successful packaging – the kind that differentiates and builds brand satisfaction – a great opportunity for all concerned.
Find out more about the insight expertise offered by ThePackHub here. You can also email Sue with any packaging insight enquiries here.
Until next time. Happy innovating.
A warm welcome to ThePackHub’s latest weekly thoughts on all things packaging innovation.
Each week we publish 25 new packaging innovations in our Innovation Zone database. We’ve picked out a few recently uploaded entries that we think you might like to know more about.
This week we’re focusing on four innovations that use packaging to help improve product shelf life. As you know, packaging plays a really important role to help keep products fit for consumption. Some of these examples might still be a few years off but it’s great to see some developments to further improve packaging’s efficacy in this area.
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Research focuses on improving vegetables shelf life
Michigan State University School of Packaging is working on improving vegetable shelf life. The research has focused on prolonging the life of the humble and ubiquitous onion. The research team developed a pack and sodium hypochlorite sanitizer combination that led to preprepared onions being fit for consumption for up to two weeks. This compares to a much shorter shelf life for diced onions ordinarily. Controlling the package’s atmosphere and also sanitizing the contents is nothing new but finding the optimum combination has never previously been published.
Sensors in packaging inform of food shelf life status
Headquartered in Trondheim, Norway, Sintef is the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia. The company is developing a plant-based biodegradable packaging material that will use sensors that change colour to determine when the food inside sours to notify consumers that the food inside has expired. The addition of nanoparticles provide better oxygen barrier than plastic so will also help to preserve the contents for longer. Four prototypes are being developed. The first is a bottle developed in conjunction with Logoplaste. The second is a pot in partnership with Argo. The third and fourth are an alternative to a plastic food bowl and a cling film alternative. The sensor works when the food goes off as its pH changes, causing the nanocapsules in the packaging to break down and change colour.
New generation high barrier substrate keeps food fresher for longer
NatureWorks is the manufacturer of the plant-based biopolymer called Ingeo. The company has collaborated with Italian metallized film producer Metalvuoto to develop a high barrier substrate with the intention of improving the shelf-life of processed foods. The innovation is called Ingeo Propylester. The Metalvuoto film consist of only two layers and it is claimed that it delivers a performance equivalent to that of three-layer pouches. Metalvuoto’s films boast high gas, aroma and water vapour barriers to help preserve packaged foods. The new film is created by coating Ingeo with Metalvuoto’s Oxaqua biocoating technology. This is combined with paper to provide a fully biobased pack comparable cost and performance wise with three-layer equivalents.
Moisture-permeable membrane improves cheese shelf-life
DSM manufacture vitamins, cultures and micronutrient premixes. The business has introduced a patent protected moisture-permeable cheese membrane that can be used to pack and preserve natural crust cheeses. The initiative is called Pack-Age and is being touted as a natural solution that is comparable to traditional paper bags and barrier film packaging. The cheese crust quality is apparently maintained for longer, resulting in less food waste combined with a longer shelf life. The moisture-permeable properties ensures that cheese weight loss is limited during the maturation process.
You might like to read these packaging articles that ThePackHub has shared recently:
Packaging World: Finding the sweet spot in e-commerce packaging
Beverage Daily: Packaging innovation should target on-the-go hot beverage connoisseurs
Brand Packaging: Use Packaging to Overcome Negative Perceptions
PSFK: Bottle Opener Will DM Your Friends Each Time You Use It
Packaging Digest: 4 fast-moving trends in food and beverage packaging
Packaging events for the diary
Don’t forget that if you see any interesting, unusual or different packaging innovations, please make sure you let us know and we can feature it in a future article. If there is an area you’d like us to tackle, just shout. Remember you can click here to ensure you stay up to date with future updates
Until next week. Happy innovating.