For today’s on-the-go consumer, easy-to-open packaging is the best route to go. But everything can’t be too easy or it would be too good to be true.

That’s why manufacturers are striving to provide the dairy industry with convenient, eco-friendly, labor-saving options, says Scott Bossong, marketing director, dairy packaging for Sealed Air, Cryovac Food Packaging.

One development by the Duncan, S.C.-based maker of Cryovac brand packaging materials, for example, is the Cryovac Multi-seal, which is a roll-stock deli package with an easy-open, reclosable, non-forming web, Bossong says. “The big advantage of this package is that it will repeatedly reclose without losing its stick,” he says. “It eliminates zippers and the cost associated with them.”

The Cryovac Multi-seal system comes ready to run on existing equipment and can be used with wedge, block, cubed, shredded and grated cheese.

Sealed Air also launched parchment-print bags and roll stock, which are 100% flood printed, giving packages a distinctive look and feel. “We can do any shade or color of parchment print, though most customers have been interested in the white look of parchment paper,” Bossong says. “The parchment print is associated with high quality freshness.

The parchment-printed materials are available for forming and non-forming roll stock in bag sizes up to 12.5 inches wide, and also can do eight-color process print on top of the parchment print.

Another innovation is the Cryovac Grip & Tear Bag, which contains a knifeless design that eliminates mess and provides an easy-open option for 6-ounce to 6-pound blocks and wedges of cheese. “The huge advantage of this bag is that you tear through the seal area so the customer doesn’t sacrifice any package integrity,” Bossong says. “On the deli side, it eliminates cross contamination of knives and also helps with the insurance issues – less knife handling.”

The Cryovac Multibag is a vacuum-sealed barrier bag that can be divided into multiple sections that are attached by a perforation, allowing the processor to sell two to four individually packaged pieces of cheese as one package, Bossong says. “The customer can take the package home and tear off pieces as they need them,” he adds. “They can store the rest without having to open all the items at once.”

Additionally, the company launched the Freshness Plus line of active packaging materials, which is designed for oxygen-sensitive and long shelf-life products.

“Dairy processors are looking for biodegradable packaging or source-reduction alternatives,” Bossong says.

Known for its technological advancements in high-barrier packaging, Curwood, a part of the Bemis family of companies, introduced Form-Tite thermoform-shrink roll stock, which dramatically increases production efficiencies and visual appeal for a variety of meats and cheeses.

According to the Oshkosh, Wis.-based manufacturer, the Form-Tite allows for exceptional puncture resistance, which protects the product during the distribution channel, and provides a printed film option, which eliminates secondary labeling and maximizes visual appeal.

Flexing the film

While processors crave equipment that makes their jobs easier, consumers are also opting for the same treatment.

That’s why companies like Printpack, based in Farmingdale, N.Y., are working on an easy-open, tamper-evident band, says Barbara Drillings, the company’s marketing communications manager.

“With the aging population and safety on the store shelf or in the refrigerated area continuing to be a major concern for the dairy industry, we see this new closure as potentially being very important to processors in the future,” she says.

Printpack’s combination sleeve label, Drillings says, is an all-in-one product that reduces labor costs, features a high-yield PETG film – which allows processors to use a thinner gauge bottle and extend shelf life – and comes with a matte finish and a soft touch.

“Reducing costs is essential for how processors view flexible packaging,” she says. “Printpack has been successful [in] converting a number of our large dairy customers to lower-gauge film. The result is source reduction through less net material weight, which lowers product and transportation costs.”

Furthermore, white opaque and transparent OPP films are what’s hot in the freezer aisle, according to Jon Knight, director of packaging, label and technical business for Treofan America.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based manufacturer created transparent and white opaque packages for ice cream and ice cream novelties that are two-side sealable, contain a wide seal range and are highly resistant to puncture. Likewise, Treofan introduced white opaque and metalized cartons for ice cream, novelties and ice cream sandwiches that deliver high point-of-sale appeal and in- and out-pealable seals, among other attributes.

Dairy processors want higher line speeds, increased efficiency and low cost, Knight says, including OPP films with higher stiffness, tensile strength and moisture barrier.

For its part, Alcan Packaging Food Americas launched FeatherWeight Film, an innovative barrier film that uses up to 50% less material than traditional liners while maintaining machinability and puncture resistance, according to the Chicago-based company recently acquired by Bemis.

The film also uses less plastic resin, energy and landfill space and offers freight savings and reduced operations costs due to fewer roll changes.

Easy does it is the name of the game. And thanks to the flurry of new flexible packaging items, processors’ and consumers’ lives are getting a bit easier.

Sidebar: Packaging that's smart

Manufacturers are constantly trying to do things smarter, whether it’s introducing packaging options that make consumers’ lives easier, or building machinery that makes operators’ lives easier.

But what happens when the machinery is just smart?

According to a recent study, the demand for active and intelligent packaging is projected to climb 8.3% annually to $1.9 billion by 2013, which is well above the overall packaging industry.

The report, titled “Active & Intelligent Packaging” and conducted by The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm, outlines several trends pertaining to the packaging market.

For instance, increased concerns over food safety and waste management will spur requirements for more sophisticated packaging that extends shelf life or enhances traceability, the study notes. Time-temperature indicators and other smart systems will offer product differentiation and cost competition.

Meanwhile, the demands for active packaging, or the art of ‘going green,’ are forecasted to advance 7.1% per year to $1.7 billion by 2013, according to the study. This figure entails a solid growth for oxygen scavenger bottles, which will drive popularity among the single-serve arena for hot-fill juices and teas, the report says.

Additionally, moisture control and corrosion control packaging will increase at a slower rate due to the introduction of more mature product types and applications, the report notes.