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Two prestigious sets of awards are presented during late winter each year: The DuPont Awards and the Flexible Packaging Awards. Both celebrate the originality of package designers and the technical expertise required to provide packages that not only look attractive but also fill the needs for packaging integrity, extended shelf life, and other qualities that make the package important to the total product/package unit.
DuPont’s Millennium Award, for the best concept in food packaging during the 13 years of the DuPont Awards, was presented for aseptic pouch packaging for low-acid foods. The combination of process, product, and package has provided a new line of foods, particularly in countries where refrigeration isn’t as common as it is in developed countries. In developed countries, the use of aseptic packaging and individual-serving sizes has added to convenience.
Three separate awards for aseptic products have been made in past years. The first award came in the third DuPont Awards and was given to Amboy Specialty Foods Division of Dean Foods and FR Manufacturing, for the pouch that held sauces and puddings in aseptic bag-in-box units. These products were designed for institutional use.
The second award came in the fifth DuPont Awards, and was also awarded to Amboy, for its use of the pouches in cooperation with Robert Bosch Co. and American National Can Co. The product in this case was cheese, and the technological innovation was the first aseptic pouch produced on a form/fill/seal unit. The pouch permitted packaging source reduction, important for the foodservice industry.
The third award came in the tenth DuPont Awards and was presented to Productora Agropecuaria Mautam S.A. de C.V. and DuPont S.A. de C.V. for a 1-L aseptic form/fill/seal pouch for UHT processed milk. The milk was shelf stable for six months, a first in the Mexican marketplace.
Now that foods with particulates are beginning to appear in aseptic packages, we can assume that there may be more awards for this technology in new containers. The growth in aseptic packages over the past ten years of the DuPont Awards corresponds with the time line for many new technologies.
Additional awards were presented during this year’s DuPont Awards ceremony:
• Diamond Award Winner. Du Pont’s top award for food packaging in this year’s contest was awarded for the large, easy-pour juice bottle adopted by Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. The light-weight PET bottle has an integral polypropylene handle that is attached during the blowing procedure. The package can be recycled, as the handle can be detached easily and sent to the polypropylene bin. The bottle holds a gallon of juice, so that it approaches bulk packaging status. This package, by Yoshino America Corp.and Continental PET Technologies Inc., also won a “Gold” award in the category of food packages.
• Gold Award Winner. A highly automated system for holding sausages that are filled and cooked in a final package received a Gold Award. The product was test marketed in Germany and found to improve productivity and eliminate the need for casings. Sausage meat is mixed and filled directly into the thermoformed tray, made by Dixie Union GmbH and Co. KG. Each portion is individually sealed, and the sausages are easily removed for roasting or grilling. The structure is a multilayer structure of nylon, EVOH, and Surlyn® resin. The package withstands abuse, and provides good seal integrity with easy-peel opening features.
• Silver Award Winners. Deep Draw EPET Foam barrier trays were introduced in Switzerland in 1997. The unit can be used for fresh meat, fish, poultry, deli products, and frozen foods. The tray, by Wihuri Oy Wipak, reduces plastic use, and cuts weight in the final product, while providing structural integrity. The material, called Escofoam™ provides a barrier equivalent to ordinary PET trays, plus additional insulation properties.
A modified PEN material, added to PET, is used to form a 350-mL Coke® bottle with improved oxygen and carbon dioxide barrier properties. The innovation allows a commodity plastic to behave like a high-performance product, at the cost of the commodity. The bottle is recyclable with PET resins. The 350-mL bottle has a high surface-to-volume ratio, and the modified material makes a major difference in shelf life of the carbonated soft drink. The bottle is by Shell Chemical Co.
A unique, three-side-sealed tube construction used for Yoplait’s Go-Gurt™ yogurt for kids is made from a polyester and proprietary LDPE sealant film to provide strength, toughness, and sealability. The design uses less material than four-sided tubes, and offers flavor and aroma barrier properties needed to provide more than one flavor in a box of the yogurt tubes. The material has good freeze-thaw stability, too, permitting Mom to freeze the yogurt units and permit them to thaw in the lunchbox. The package offers opportunities for other products, as well. Packages are made by Curpak and Winpak Lane. Yoplait is a General Mills product.
Container for foods for home delivery offers insulation for extended time with minimum amounts of coolant. The interior and exterior of the package are of thermoformed HDPE, and the package holds an insulation system made of Instill™ microcellular polystyrene foam encased in a heat-sealed barrier pouch made of Mylar™ superbarrier film. Food products can stay cold for up to 24 hr. This package appears to be designed for consumers who want to order foods on the Web for home delivery but won’t necessarily be at home to accept delivery. With new methods of food delivery being developed, this package may be particularly useful. The container, Cool Foods for Home Delivery, was designed by Thermo Solutions and Product Design Center.
The DuPont Awards were begun in 1986 and are judged cooperatively with the National Food Processors Association and Campden and Chorleywood Food Research. The entries are judged on three overall categories: degree of innovation, breadth of application, and significance and impact on industry and consumers. The awards are for plastic packaging, and can be targeted anywhere in the food chain.
The Flexible Packaging Association voted top packaging awards to two food packages: The Ernie Pouch and Wave Wrap™.
The Ernie Pouch is a standup pouch with a reclosable zipper. As one might expect from the name of the package, the pouch features Keebler’s Ernie the Elf. When the cookies are gone, the pouch becomes a hand puppet. The pouch is manufactured by Pechiney Packaging, Chicago, Ill.
Wave Wrap, a single flexible wrapper, replaces both an OPP overwrap and a rigid paperboard susceptor sleeve for containing frozen, microwavable sandwiches. The wrapper is said to run well on HFFS equipment. The package is by Phoenix Packaging, Maple Grove, Minn. The wrap is partly demetallized during the wrapping process to permit customization for specific products.
The following patents about packaging materials and equipment can be downloaded from www.uspto.gov by searching by key word, patent number or patentor, using a Boolean search on the front page of the patent section.
Tetrahedral top carton. U.S. patent 6,016,953, filed 8/14/1997, issued 1/25/2000 to R. Stacey-Ryan et al., assigned to Tetra-Laval Holdings & Finance, SA. Describes a tetrahedral top carton and a blank that has at least a 9% material savings over a traditional gable-top carton containing an equal volume of product. The carton has a tetrahedral top structure formed from four top panels intersecting and sealed adjacently. The carton may have a fitment for accessing the contents. The fitment may be placed on the pinnacle of the tetrahedral top structure or on a single top panel. The carton may have outward folded fins projecting from the intersection of the top panels, or the fins may be folded inward to create a diagonal crease/edge in the intersection between adjacent top panels. The carton may also have an overfolded bottom for reverse filling on a form, fill, and seal packaging machine.
Flexible container for flowable materials. U.S. patent 6,015,057, filed 8/12/1998, issued 1/18/2000 to M.G. Stone et al., assigned to Storsack Tradco Ltd. Describes a container for storage or transport of liquids that includes a flexible body which is collapsible and erectable, the body having a base and side walls with pockets that contain stiffening to stiffen the flexible body. A transverse gusset is provided at each corner between adjacent side walls, and a reinforcer extends from the corner to the gusset, the reinforcer being provided with stiffening. A liner conforms to the octagonal interior configuration of the container body. Two opposite side walls each have two center pockets, and a central joint line between the two center pockets provides a hinge line for folding of the container. Each side wall, reinforcer, and gusset may be formed of a single piece of fabric.
Gable-top containers and container blanks. U.S. patent 6,024,280, filed 12/9/1996, issued 2/15/2000 to H. Marovskis, assigned to Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance, S A. A gable-top vessel made from sheet material having a heat-sealable surface includes a closure that has at least one adhesive layer joining the inner surfaces of the first and second outer rib panels to define a pair of joined panels. The adhesive layer can be a copolymer of ethylene and acrylic acid or vinyl alcohol, hermetically sealing the joined panels together while reducing the force required to part the joined panels, providing an easier opening carton.
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