the convenience STORE
By Cindy Macdonald, associate editor
Why would a yogurt container come with its own spoon? Novelty, of course, but convenience as well. General Mills, manufacturers of Yoplait and Columbo yogurt, recognized that yogurt and other foods ar...
Why would a yogurt container come with its own spoon? Novelty, of course, but convenience as well. General Mills, manufacturers of Yoplait and Columbo yogurt, recognized that yogurt and other foods are likely to turn up in a backpack, in the car or at your desk and developed a two-part spoon that is attached under the lid.
In our increasingly mobile environment, allegiance to the kitchen as a place to prepare and eat food is withering, as is the concept of an office as a fixed place of work.
This lifestyle places high demands on product packaging. A package must compete for the consumer’s attention on shelves, dispense the desired amount and then preserve and protect the rest. And maybe cook and serve the contents.
PRE-MADE POUCHES TAKE OFF
“One of the reasons stand-up pouches have seen such growth is their merchandizing potential, especially for club/warehouse stores,” says Steve Coulson, sales and marketing director, Peel Plastic Products Ltd., a converter in Brampton, Ont. that specializes in pouches. The plant has three bagmaking lines in addition to printing and laminating capabilities.
Consumers and manufacturers have recognized the benefits of pouches for many product categories, and it appears future growth in this category will bring more business to converters.
Pre-made pouches are the current high-growth area in flexible packaging. The growth may be partly attributed to the relative low cost of a machine to fill pouches versus a machine to make pouches. Co-packers can more easily enter the pouch market with a filling machine than with the more capital-intensive pouch making machinery.
In a recent presentation to the Packaging Association of Canada’s Quebec section, Coulson listed growth markets for stand-up pouches as: horticultural, pet food/cat litter, confectionery, cereal, dry mixes/side dishes, cookies and crackers.
He identifies retort pouches, in which the manufacturer can cook the contents, similar to a can, as another new market for pouches. Pet food is one possibility for this technology. Home meal replacements and slider zippers also represent new opportunities.
CLOSING IN ON NEW MARKETS
With the development of new zipper technology, several new niches for reclosable pouches may be opening up.
A contaminant-resistant zipper closure from Presto Products Co. will make reclosable packaging more attractive for powdered and granular products. The proprietary design of the Style 140 Fresh-Lock zipper opens new opportunities for a wide range of products including powdered drink mixes; sugar, flour and baking ingredients; spices; cereals and snacks; birdseed and pet food; detergents and cleaning powders; fertilizers and potting soils.
Reconfigured male and female closures channel particles outward and away from the zipper track. A flat interior traps and holds material away from the locking mechanism for smooth, clean zipper performance.
Minigrip/Zip-Pak also has introduced a “powder-proof” zipper that uses perforations on the female side.
Velcro USA Inc. has introduced Touch Seal, a hook and loop package closure system. Channels of precision-molded Ultra-Mate hook fasteners (in polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester or nylon) mate with Touch Tak loop fabric.
Velcro can provide narrow web assemblies using substrate-compatible resin types that are subsequently attached to the package or pouch by standard sealing methods. Also, fastener components can be extruded onto customer-supplied films by Velcro companies.
Benefits of the Touch Seal closure are: suitable for all ages and motor-skill levels; functions in moist, wet, cold, frozen conditions, and is microwaveable; provides ventilation; seals through packaged-product particulate; closes with simple touch.
Natalie Fritz-Alt of converting machinery manufacturer GN Packaging Equipment notes that slide zippers are also gaining prominence, partly due to their ease of use for consumers with reduced dexterity, such as the elderly and younger children.
GN Packaging offers a zipper pouch attachment system that can be retrofitted to existing GN bag and pouch machines, or adapted to other makes of equipment. It consists of a free-standing zipper guide, a sealing unit, a zipper strip guide and an ultrasonic or hot bar zipper crusher unit.
GN and Battenfeld Gloucester have both enhanced their bagmaking equipment to offer greater precision. GN’s optional dual servo tension control system gives greater production speed and greater control of the web. As co-extruded products and thinner gauge films become more common, the dual servo tension control allows similar high speed production of either non-stretchy laminations or extendible co-ex film.
Flux vector drives and new controls have increased the precision and flexibility of Battenfeld Gloucester’s Model 4180 bagmaking machine. The change to flux vector drives offers about 100 times more precision than traditional DC motors. The result is more precise control that can increase bag quality, allow higher running speeds and consistently reduce scrap.
ADD A LITTLE GLITZ
A recent study of consumer buying habits indicates the transparency, iridescence and shine of a product’s packaging significantly influences purchasing intent and perceptions of a product. The study conducted by Perception Research Services measured consumer reactions to packaging enhanced by special effect films.
Favorability to purchase improved dramatically for products clad in packaging enhanced by special-effect films, compared with traditional packaging, the study found. Aurora special effect film from Engelhard Corp. was used in the study, and applied to soft drinks, bar soap, body wash and mouthwash packaging. The film’s multi-layer structure separates white light into various colors, so the appearance changes with viewing angle.
Another way to create innovative effects is multi-layer bottles. “The advantages of multiple-layer blow molding are appearance and cost,” says Len Kulka, director of creative development, Clariant Masterbatches Division. “Color can be used selectively, thereby reducing the need to color all layers and decreasing the cost per pound of the finished component. Our job is to work with the designers to choose the right combination of visual characteristics, such as tint, opacity and translucent effect to achieve the desired end result.”
Full-body labels are also having an impact in the marketing of products ranging from milk to shampoo to iced tea to beer. As a result of its high shrink force and greater than 70 percent ultimate shrinkage, Eastman’s Embrace copolyester is suitable for full-body labels on highly contoured packages. Other applications for Embrace include wine cap seals and shrink-wrap.
This horticultural package produced by Peel Plastic demonstrates the best features of a stand-up pouch: high-quality graphics, printed bottom, and a reclosable zipper.