Packaging innovation knows no boundaries

Elopak Mini Diamond
Editor's Note: Dairy product packaging is at least as important around the world as it is in North America. While priorities are different, here because of our unique circumstances (our overwhelming preference for fresh milk, for example), dairy industries around the world are experiencing many of the same changes in packaging.

In the western world (and in some emerging markets) it is nearly universal that consumers want dairy packaging that is more attractive and engaging, and more mobile and conveniently sized. While it may be limited to the organic sector in North America, the environmental impact of packaging is also a crucial concern in most of the world.

From the processor's perspective, these consumer needs must be met, and in addition, packaging, and its accompanying equipment and systems must provide high speed efficiency, automation, accuracy, and reliability while having the least possible impact on the food's quality and wholesomeness.

In our global packaging showcase, we look at some new dairy packaging and packaging equipment solutions that are being offered by suppliers from around the world, and how dairy processors are putting them to use.

Some of the material here was provided courtesy of Dairy Industries International, based in the United Kingdom.

Collar-it, from Denny Bros., UK, is a die-cut collar that is printed on the front and rear faces at a high quality, and is supplied on reel for automatic application to bottles using a standard label applicator. Collars usually have to be applied by hand, which is costly and time-consuming. This system allows for collars to be added in the same way self-adhesive labels are affixed to products. It is available for production on a variety of dimensions and specifications and in any quantity from 5,000 upwards.

The launch of Tine's new range of healthy flavored milks last month marked the global, commercial release of the latest carton innovation from Elopak Systems, the Netherlands. The Pure-Pak® Curve underwent successful applications in late 2003 with OL

NatureWorks PLA
UK-based packaging manufacturer and distributorEuropackagingwas extolling the benefits of its NatureWorks PLA concept at a packaging trade show in the UK earlier this year.Based on the idea that there is a growing demand among consumers for natural packaging,NatureWorksis said to be the first commercially viable material derived from an annually renewable source - maize. The product can be used for short shelflife dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Europackaging had a yogurt cup and cheese tray on display, and the material is actually being used already. Italian supermarket chain IPER is using a similar tray to sell cheese in its stores, and another retailer in Europe is doing trials with cheese trays made of NatureWorks PLA.

Since 1982, Spanish concern, Arbresa, has sold ceramic containers that are used in a variety of food applications. The attractive ceramic containers are inexpensive and they offer dairy processors an excellent opportunity to differentiate their products in today's competitive environment. Suitable to contain all types of food, offer an elegant appearance, and they are organic. In addition, Arbresa's containers are oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe. European applications have included cheeses, frozen desserts, ice creams, and yogurt. They have been granted FDA approval, and the company has begun marketing them in the United States.

In the package handling area, AmbaFlex, the Netherlands, recently introduced Spiralveyor conveying systems, which are designed for bridging height differences in plants. The spiral design of these conveyors gives simplicity and compactness. The system operates on a single drive, meaning that little maintenance is required. The Spiralveyor is available in belt widths of 100, 200, 400, 600 and 800mm. Loads of up to 60 kg/m can be conveyed depending on the model and throughput capacities of over 6,000 items per hour can be achieved at transport speeds of 90 metres per minute.

UK closures specialist Bericap has introduced a new Double Seal O2S oxygen scavenger closure. The cap is part of the growing Bericap Double Seal family that now features the 28mm ‘Eco' and ‘still' variants which provide the usual performance benefits without the need for slip additives. The three piece push/pull sports cap has been enhanced by the addition of a vented dust cover option. Bericap will also be showing its two piece sports cap, designed specifically for single-handed operation.

Sleeve labelling specialist Decorative Sleeves, UK, which is part of the Illinois Tool Works group, is offering some innovation in the area of sleeve packaging for food and drinks. In addition to the range of inks already available - including glow in the dark and pearlescent, it now offers a new matte scuff-resistant ink for surface printing.

Dimaco, UK, offers a number of end-of-line inspection systems. One of the most important of these is Veri-Pack, a pack label identification, placement and verification unit. Dimaco will also show the new Veri-OCR, which can either be integrated with Veri-Pack or can work as a stand-alone solution. The system operates by verifying the code on the container or the label against a font stored in the system's memory. The reading and checking of the presence, legibility and code correctness is completed quickly.

Logopak, UK, is launching an automatic print and apply labeller which can write simultaneously to a radio frequency identification (RFID) transponder within the label. This means that the same label can be read by the human eye, laser or by radio frequency.

Procomac, Italy, is introducing its Synchro integrated blowing, filling and capping system on its stand. Based on the combined experience of Sipa for bottle blowing and Procomac for filling, the model on the stand will feature a Procomac Fillstar, a Sipa SFR blower and an Arol capper. Synchro is available in several types, including versions for extended shelflife milk, yogurt and other milk-based products.

Caps and closures

Alcoa Closure Systems:

Blackhawk Molding:

Lenco Molding:

Portola Packaging:

Rexam Closures:

Selected packaging companies:

TheDairy Pak Division Blue Ridge Paper Products Inc. is a leading supplier of gabletop packaging for several industries including dairy.

Elopak USA is a leading supplier of filling systems for fresh, ESL and shelf stable products. A specialist in gabletop packaging, Elopak also offers plastic bottle systems.

Huhtamaki provides packaging solutions to a full range of consumer product markets, and a market leader for ice cream packaging.

H.S. Crocker is an industry leading converter that specializes in the production of heat seal lidstocks, pressure sensitive labels, folding cartons and other packaging material with dairy applications.

MeadWestvaco Packaging Systems provides paperboard packaging solutions, particularly for secondary packaging, with applications for dairy.

TetraPak is a world leader in processing and filling equipment including aseptic systems for milk and other fluid products.

Sidebar: Recycling efforts in France

Recycled PET is becoming a more viable option for European dairy processors thanks to a new recycling plant in Beaune, France. The plant, operated as a joint venture by Amcor PET Packaging and Buhler Technology Group, recently underwent a $20,000 upgrade that triples production or food grade recycled PET.

Until recently, most recycled PET was converted to fiber that was then used in secondary packaging. The Amcor/Buhler model allows the recycled PET bottles to be converted into resin tablets that can then by reused as PET bottles.

The key to the project's success was the combining of two previously separate functions into one continuous process. Dutch Dairy processor Friesland has taken avantage of the technology to introduce milk products in one liter and 330 ml PET bottles that use 50% recycled material. The company received a special recognition in 2002 when it first introduced the use of the material and has since vowed to use it for all new products introduced.