Well, the wintery blasts have come, gone, and are coming again since our last newsletter. Hopefully, these blasts are not impacting your crops, work, or family life too much. Talking about cold, we will be at Mystery Creek in Hamilton for the Hort NZ Conference on the 5/6th August so for those of you who don’t know the Waikato well dress warmly.
With all the noise around single use plastics and products that have been listed to be phased out by mid-2023, I thought it would be timely to talk about packaging innovation and in particular heat sealing and the impact that it can make in plastic reduction. Categories such as meat and fresh salads for supermarket Delis have already made the move because heat sealing extends the shelf life of ready meals and preserved foods, ensuring food products stay fresher for longer. How does this correlate to fresh produce you ask, well typically if you take a clamshell punnet and weigh it then cut the lid off you will find half the weight of the pack was in the lid?
To give you a graphic example, I took a clamshell punnet that holds 125g of berries and the weight of the empty punnet came in at 14.2g. If this was converted to a heat sealed punnet equivalent with film then it would be approx. 7.9g, with a significant difference of 6.3g. If you put this reduction across 30 million units then that is a reduction of 1.89 tonnes of plastic.
It is interesting to see how fresh produce packaging is being revolutionised in other parts of the world over recent years. Tesco, M&S and Sainsbury are all using top seal packaging for fruits and vegetables in the UK with barely a clamshell in sight! Whilst slower in getting started, North American companies have been showcasing top seal punnets with berries, tomatoes and other fresh produce at various produce conferences and exhibitions for the last few years with great success. There is also a clear theme of top seal being in the finalists and winners at various produce packaging competitions across the globe.
While the larger western markets are seeing the benefits of evolving their pack types, the question back home is when are growers, packers and retailers in NZ and Australia going to start appreciating the benefits of top seal packaging?
International research has confirmed that most consumers prefer top seal packaging over the other more traditional formats. This preference increases to 77% when consumers find out that they can save 30% in the volume of packaging materials.
The trend is not just led by the desire to change things up, there are a raft of tangible benefits to top sealing that New Zealand could be leveraging for both domestic and offshore markets.
The benefits to the consumer from features that top seal delivers include:
- Greatly increased shelf appeal
- Conveys the product as being premium
- End customers quickly identify the product as looking less ‘packaged’
- Crystal-clear transparency, resulting in high product visibility
- Tamper evidence providing food safety peace of mind
- Strong anti-fog performance
- High quality surface printing
- Optimisation of distribution and logistics
- Shelf-life extension technology
- Peel and reseal
- An extensive range of sustainable, compostable fibre, and R-Pet food packaging options
One potential barrier that customers may see for shifting to top seal is the capital cost of equipment and production line modifications. In many of our installations we are finding that our heat seal equipment can be slotted into place with minimal disruption or plant modifications and the equipment is very fast to get up and running. Where cost of equipment is a barrier, the team at Jenkins have calculators to assist in confirming payback periods and flexibility to be able to rent or lease to trial for part of or a whole season before committing further.
In most cases the cost of capital equipment doesn’t need to be a barrier to giving your products that premium look, enhanced shelf presence and giving them the lift to get them flying off the shelf. Talk to Ann about the options for giving your product a lift.