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Packaging – is it fit for purpose? From August 2017

Packaging performance - making the most of your product

Packaging is fundamental in providing safe, high quality food and drink products to the consumer. Good packaging can also reduce food waste, reduce packaging costs and increase shelf life. Here are some examples we have helped with recently.

Reducing food waste

Ensuring that existing packaging functions correctly is also vital to prevent food waste. It is has been suggested that nearly a third of food is wasted, and about half of this is before it reaches the consumer. Common issues can be seams on cans, leaking seals, break down of materials and damage to packaging.

We can help by investigating a whole range of packaging issues. We can perform over 30 package performance tests across a range of areas - including strength and integrity, seam assessment and permeability testing - to ensure that packaging meets manufacturers’ specifications and performance requirements.

Minimising packaging

We are commonly asked by clients to help them minimise packaging (‘light-weighting’) whilst maintaining its ability to protect the product. In a study for a client, we were able to conduct a range of tests to assure them that their product would not be compromised if they removed a layer of material from their packaging. This allowed the company to reduce the amount of packaging they were using and reduce costs.

Using new technologies

Other work we carry out includes investigating new technologies, such as "Dubble Bubble" (developed by Dubble Bubble and using an updated vertical form fill seal machine built by Ulma), to see how they can reduce pack damage and increase shelf life. Dubble Bubble is designed to protect delicate products, which are suspended in a 'hammock' surrounded by a cushion of air or modified gasses. Work so far has looked at soft fruit, salad leaves, tomatoes and red meat.

Extending shelf life

Packaging can affect shelf life by slowing the growth of microorganisms, extending how long the product remains safe and retains acceptable sensory characteristics. We have a range of facilities for packing different products in several pack formats, including modified atmosphere. The use of gases in modified atmosphere packaging or active packaging can extend shelf life. Modified atmosphere packaging can be used to reduce oxygen levels and slow the activity of aerobic organisms and oxidation reactions.

Active packaging, the incorporation of an active system into packaging film or a container, can help to maintain the quality or extend the shelf life of the product. Typical systems used include oxygen and carbon dioxide scavengers or emitters, moisture absorbers, ethylene scavengers and ethanol emitters.

We have a range of facilities for packaging analysis and for strength and integrity testing, as well as both chemical and sensory taint analysis capabilities - to check your packaging is fit for purpose and to help ensure your packaging makes the most of your product.

Contact: Lynneric Potter
+44(0)1386 842237