Ovenable pouch designed for frozen seafood
Pacific West required a convenient packaging solution that allowed its frozen marinated seafood products to be directly cooked in both the microwave and oven.
The Ocean Chef Oven Bake Pouch was tailor-made by O F Packaging to conform with Pacific West’s requirements. The three-side seal flat pouch was constructed as an inner pouch for containing and cooking individual marinated fish fillets, which are then housed in an external display carton. The pouch features a kraft paper multi-laminate construction with clear rectangular window for product viewing. The kraft section of the pouch provides a sturdy printing surface for the cooking instructions.
The films, inks and adhesives used in the pouch all had to be specialised for both microwave and oven cooking, maintaining product safety and minimising contamination risk.
The benefits and features of the packaging solution can be categorised as the following:
Basic food properties: In order to be successful, the pouch had to conform to the basic needs of the product itself. As both the fillets and marinade are frozen, their barrier needs differ to that of fresh product, ie, reduced barrier to external gases such as oxygen and water vapour. However, the material still needed to provide an adequate strength to hold the product and resist puncturing.
Consumer expectations: As the pouch had to be both microwave- and oven-safe, the use of extensive imagery and message communication had to be placed on the external carton packaging, while the vital cooking instructions still feature on the pouch itself to enforce proper use.
Production line requirements: As the pouches were filled by automated machinery, the pouch needed to provide the required wide opening for product filling, and the ability to be automatically sealed. The material of the pouch also had to be freezer-safe for product storage conditions after packing.
Degree of innovation: Unlike other flexible pouches, this baking pouch is designed to be entirely oven-safe. Using a specialised heat-tolerant internal layer to house the seafood product, OF Packaging was able to create a vessel that could still function with normal heat-sealing equipment.
Practicality: Cooking directly in the pouch eliminates the need for extra preparation and washing-up. Marinades and sauces can be contained in the pouch with the seafood item at time of packing, instead of requiring further consumer effort to open, mix and add seasoning. This allows Pacific West to offer a convenient way of food preparation, while maintaining product nutrition, taste and texture. Furthermore, the individual pouch sizing provides the opportunity to decrease food wastage through proper allocation of product servings, to meet a variety of consumer needs.
Cost: Despite the higher cost of the oven-proof pouches compared to standard plastics, the utilisation of the same pouch design for multiple SKUs meant that Pacific West could order these pouches in larger quantities and reduce printing and transportation costs.
Sustainability: By removing the need for seasoning and marinade sachets, the packaging waste has been reduced. The company has considered the use of a completely clear polymer alternative which would allow the pouch to be fully recyclable. The option of a recycled cardboard sleeve is something the company will be pursuing in the near future.
Extensive trials and testing on the pouches were performed at the factory laboratory in China before being implemented for customer use in Australia. During the trialling process, a peel-and-seal option that uses heat-resistant adhesive to allow sealing by third-parties and consumers at home without the need for a heat-sealing machine was also provided.
According to O F Packaging, the Ocean Chef pouches are effective at providing an evenly cooked product, while the materials resist the high cooking temperatures for extended periods of time. Despite going from the freezer to the oven or microwave, the pouch maintains its structure without warping or delamination. This keeps the fish and liquid of the marinade safely inside the pouch throughout cooking, with the material easily discarded at the end.
The functionality of the pouch enhances the Pacific West philosophy of ‘delicious seafood without difficulty’. It has provided the company with a point of difference to provide a seafood product that can be oven-cooked directly in the pouch.
Phone: 03 9021 0490
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