May 1, 2007
by Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
Busy lifestyles demand reclosable and resealable packages.
“Eat some now and save some for later, eat some now and save some for later ...”
That jingle, which children of the 1980s should remember from TV commercials for Now and Later candy, could be used to describe consumers’ demands of reclosable, resealable dairy packaging.
Maybe you just wanted a swig of vanilla milk now and want to save the rest for a milk-and-cookies break later. You want the reassurance that once the package is opened for that first drink or bite, every other taste will be just as good.
And there’s that mantra of dieters: portion control. Maybe you want only half of that yogurt for breakfast and plan to take the rest to work for lunch. Will it spill if it tips over during your commute?
One of the latest trends in resealable and reclosable packaging is to offer closures that are quick and easy to open and have easy-to-spot tamper evidency.
Consumers want “quick and reliable opening features, and the ability to reseal easily so that shelf life is not degraded,” says Chris Reilly, Spout-Pak® global business manager, Evergreen Packaging Inc., Memphis, Tenn. “Also, a strong desire to extend product shelf life.”
Evergreen Packaging offers filling equipment for dairy, juice and other liquid food products, gable-top cartons, spouts and technical service to its customers.
Last year, IPEC, New Castle, Pa., successfully introduced a 38-mm drop-lock design screw-on closure. “To the consumer, it is aesthetically identical to our widely popular ISS closure to allow dairies the ability to use multiple types of application, across many different facilities and still ensure consistent branding and strong tamper evidence,” says Jay Martin, IPEC’s vice president of operations.
IPEC supplies plastic closures and equipment to the dairy, water and juice industries and offers a full range of technical service support for capping, filling and blow-mold operations. IPEC offers 13 different closure product lines, builds and installs custom conveyance and capping equipment commonly used in dairies.
“Drop-lock-style closures have continued to grow in popularity because of their ease of use, strong tamper evidency,” Martin says, “and for marketing single-serve dairy products on shelves next to soda, juice and sports drinks that are packaged with similar drop-lock-style closures.”
The new closure’s design incorporates a three-point sealing technology that ensures a consistent seal even on bottles with common flaws seen in the industry, Martin says. Along with the launch of this closure, the company developed a capping head design that is more consistent, easier to clean, and requires less maintenance.
IPEC also developed a dairy closure that can be used in place of the traditional ITC/SCII style closure commonly used in the industry. The new closure requires no changes to feeding equipment, cappers/fillers, or bottle finish, and improves the tamper evidency of the finished package.
IPEC’s drop-lock design ISS (snap-screw) and ISO (screw-on) closures are identical externally to allow companies the benefit of consistent branding across their lines or multiple facilities, regardless of their capping equipment that is currently in place. This minimizes the capital expense and interruption to plant operations in order to make the conversion to a drop-lock-style closure, Martin says.
Another trend, common to all industries, is packaging with an environmental conscience.
“Like other segments, sustainable packaging [is a trend]. Wal-Mart’s recent focus on the sustainability and the environment has shifted the focus to ‘greener’ packaging,” says Michelle Schmitt, market analyst, Berry Plastics, Evansville, Ind., adding that she also sees a demand for lightweighting packaging to save resin.
Berry Plastics is a manufacturer of injection-molded packaging, including thermoformed and tamper-resistant packaging. Product lines include containers, drink cups, housewares, aerosol overcaps, closures, bottles, tubes and prescription vials. The company serves the dairy, food and beverage markets along with industrial, chemical, health and beauty, and pharmaceutical industries.
Berry is equipped with a technical services group, design center and in-house graphics department. Decorating options include 10-color offset printing, screen printing and heat transfer, pressure-sensitive and in-mold labeling, the latter which continues to be a trend, Schmitt says.
With its acquisition of Kerr Group, Berry Plastics now offers an extensive line of tubed products and laminate-tube technology.
Evident Tamper Evidency
In today’s society, tamper evidency is a must for packaging and its caps. Improvements on that end include moving away from foil-seal tamper-evident features and toward pull-plug tamper-evident features, Reilly says.
“They want a package and spout that will be able to quickly demonstrate if a package has been tampered with,” Reilly says of consumers.
Evergreen’s recent gable-top filling machine introductions include Q-16, CQL-80, EH-3D and EH-3S, which all have Spout-Pak as an option to respond to the needs of consumers, Reilly says.
Both consumers and dairy processors demand a higher level of tamper evidence, says Douglas Henning, president, Blackhawk Molding Co. Inc., Addison, Ill., a manufacturer of closures and capping equipment and blow-mold bottle components specializing in neck inserts.
“A breach of a container should be clearly visible,” Henning says. “The tamper ring can stay on or be removed from bottle. Many people like to remove ring to prevent milk from being caught between bottle neck and ring which can create unwanted milk powder.”
Ensuring food safety is always important, Schmitt says. “Incorporating tamper-resistant tabs can eliminate secondary processes such as heat seals.”
Martin says with new drop-lock closures, the dairy industry now has options that can solve tamper-evidency concerns, allow marketing flexibility that they may require and can address some of the functionality issues that consumers have faced for years.
“Older-style closures can be excessively difficult to unscrew and other designs have required the end user to pull a small tab, which can be challenging for certain age groups and people with medical conditions,” he says. “The drop-lock design closures will also not leave the consumer with a tamper-evident band floating in their coffee or cereal after pouring since it remains with the bottle.”
When you come right down to it, processors and consumers have a lot of the same packaging expectations.
“Today, most consumers expect their gable-top carton to have a spout. In fact, if there is not a spout, the consumer will want to know why it does not have one,” Reilly says. “The challenge of new spout development is creating a product that satisfies the needs of the processor and the end-use consumer.”
Reilly says processors want spouts that are effective. “They want to ensure that their machine efficiencies are not negatively impacted by the spout application process. They want spouts that deliver greater value — cost less, but have differentiating features.”
Martin says processors also want ease of use and consistency in application on their filling line. “The processors want ease of use and consistency, just as the end users do.”
Schmitt says processors want more bundling of products, such as drinkable milk and cereal, and shelf-stable packaging for freshness.
Consumers want packaging that’s easy to use and consistently performs for them.
“Consumers don’t want to have to think about why a cap does or doesn’t function well on a bottle,” Martin says. “The purpose for the package is to transport and store their milk. They want it to be simple and intuitive to open and close.”
Reilly agrees. “They want to be able to quickly determine if a package has been tampered with and to be able to easily open a package. They also want to be able to reseal a package quickly and be confident that it won’t leak if knocked over or placed on its side.”
Because so many new packages are being developed for single-serve use and on-the-go lifestyles, portability goes hand in hand with reclosable, resealable packaging.
Says Schmitt, “Today’s ‘24-hour society’ demands packages be convenient for busy lifestyles.”
Shonda Talerico Dudlicek is a freelance journalist and a former managing editor of Dairy Field.$OMN_arttitle="24-Hour Society";?> $OMN_artauthor="Shonda Talerico Dudlicek";?>