The layers work in concert to extend the shelf life of granola, crackers, pretzels, and other moisture-averse foods. Michelle Wilson, director of business development for the firm’s Flexible Packaging Division, told FoodProductionDaily how the packaging can benefit cereal and snack brand owners with its structural performance and cost-effectiveness.
How do the various layers work together?
Each layer, and the material it contains, serves a different purpose in the structure. These materials are dictated by the product, environment, format and use. Package shelf life–one of the primary functions of the package—is focused on maximizing shelf life as it pertains to moisture and flavor barrier.
The other primary function is to provide package integrity, both through the package filling process as well as on the retail and consumer shelf. To maximize package integrity, we focus on improved sealability, stiffness, and durability; the nine layers allow us to balance all of those requirements, while providing the most economical formulation possible.
Traditionally, films in this market space have been limited to five or seven layers with HDPE, LLDPE, polyamide, EVOH, EVA, and ionomer providing the desired functionality. We have advanced the technology by using nine-layer capabilities and polymers to precisely manage all aspects of the finished film's properties and performance.
Fourteen different resins are combined into the available nine layers in the coex film, maximizing the performance of each raw material.
How does the reduced thickness benefit brand owners?
The trend in the food packaging industry for the last 25 years has been toward thinner films for a variety of reasons, with lower costs driving a significant portion of the activity. However, with traditional five- and seven-layer extrusion lines, continued gauge reduction is limited because it compromises package integrity and shelf life.
By delivering fully functional films at reduced gauges, the brand owner benefits in three ways, including faster processing speeds due to quicker sealing in the filling operation, improved sustainability claims because there is less material to dispose of post consumption, and third, reduced cost as a result of less resin per package.
Why is this material especially suited for snacks and cereal?
The largest benefit for this product is delivering the same food quality and package use experience to the consumer at a significant savings to the package producer. The film was engineered with a better moisture barrier resulting in a crisper dry food product as it nears the end of the package shelf life, along with easy opening seals allowing convenient access to the food product.
So, when we think about snacks and cereal products, crispier is better, and easy-opening seals improve the consumer experience.
Are there any other products this film could be used for?
While this particular film has been custom designed for specific dry food products, the flexibility of the nine-layer asset will allow us to customize films for a variety of applications, particularly those that require us to balance package integrity with optimized barrier, whether the focus is on moisture, oxygen, light, or flavor.
Tell us more about the easy-open seal?
While the composition of the sealant layer for this application is proprietary, it has been designed to enhance the consumer experience, which includes being able to open the package more easily.