Turning up the heat on innovation in packaging and processing in Australia

Tetra Pak Marketing Pty Ltd

By Jason Bezzina, Business Development Manager, Tetra Recart
Friday, 26 May, 2017

Turning up the heat on innovation in packaging and processing in Australia

The Australian packaging and food processing market is overdue for an innovation injection. Consider the humble tin can, which is still one of the most dominant forms of packaging in this country — even though it was invented over 200 years ago.

New solutions are now available here which present a step change for producers, manufacturers and consumers. One of the most significant of these is retortable packaging, which has been widely adopted in the US and Europe for the last 10 years and is now available for the first time in Australia.

To give you the official definition (and we should know because we invented it), the retortable carton allows the sterile packaging of a wide variety of food. It is a modern alternative to traditional canning methods and can cater to everything from vegetables and beans to tomatoes, pet food, soups and sauces.

The benefits of these cartons range from being more attractive to consumers to being more cost-effective and environmentally friendly for producers and retailers. Also, interestingly for the agribusiness sector in this country, this new approach provides the opportunity for producers to take a fresh look at how to add value to their raw materials. Why sell a tomato when you can sell tomato soup in a retortable carton?

Winning ways with consumers

This form of packaging has proved overwhelmingly popular with consumers. Research has shown that consumers perceive paper-based packaging as premium and also think highly of the companies that package their products this way. There are many examples of manufacturers using the packaging to refresh their brands and extend and modernise their product ranges. One great example from Ireland is the food brand I AM SOUPER, which has differentiated itself by producing a high-protein soup in a recart carton branded with a vibrant and eye-catching graphic design.

In a highly saturated marketplace, a point of difference is requisite for a company to stand out amongst the noise of competitors. Being amongst the first to switch from tin cans to retort cartons will be refreshing and bold. It will draw in the attention of consumers and retailers, making the switch impactful and worthy of investment. Food manufacturers who make the switch are indicating to their domestic and export markets that they are willing to invest in and implement changes to offer the best available products.

Taking eight trucks off the road

Carton loading. Image courtesy Tetra Pak.

Benefits for manufacturers include a better carbon footprint and savings in transportation. For every nine trucks of empty cans, you only need one truck of flat-packed Tetra Recart cartons. Made from renewable sources, and designed for logistics efficiencies, food manufacturers can easily reduce fuel consumption, food miles travelled and carbon emissions.

The innovation explained

Tetra Recart is retortable carton designed with a proprietary multilayer paperboard, foil and polymer laminate structure, which enables the cartons to withstand conventional retort temperatures (up to 130°C for up to 2 h).

The Tetra Pak R1 is a packaging platform built with high levels of automation and designed for high-volume production, running up to 24,000 packages per hour depending on the filled product. Speeds can be varied across five settings, which enables different food to be packaged with the same line.

An automatic carton loader function frees up operators’ time to perform other tasks, as carton blanks are fed into the form and seal machine automatically. The cartons are sealed by induction, where the aluminum foil is heated under tight control, melting the plastic in the packaging material. The package is sealed using pressure. The machinery can monitor the right levels of temperature and pressure, and stops when incorrect parameters are detected.

A software tool called the packaging line monitoring system (PLMS) monitors and logs the performance of the packaging lines, and data can be analysed to understand detailed production data and spot areas for corrective improvement. The R1 is equipped with the Tetra Pak Operator Panel with an intuitive touch-screen interface, with large windows enabling operators to watch production directly.

The Tetra Recart and Tetra Pak R1 not only enable food manufacturers to process and package food efficiently, but also delivers savings in transportation, retailing and storage, benefiting each stakeholder in the value chain.

Taking a fresh look

Tetra Recart. Image courtesy Tetra Pak.

With new innovation coming into the market, an opportunity presents itself for everyone including growers, producers, manufacturers and retailers to take a fresh look at how they are doing business. Starting with reinventing your approach, from the packaging up, can be a great route to exciting new ways of working and open up significant new commercial opportunities.

Top image: Induction sealing. Image courtesy Tetra Pak.

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