IPER, a leading Italian supermarket chain, announced this week that it has launched a natural-based packaging alternative for its thermoform containers and heat-sealable film overlays.
Made entirely from NatureWorks PLA, the containers will be available in mid-summer 2002 to distribute fresh food and pasta, offering consumers, the company claims, a 'natural-in-natural' package.
Developed by Cargill Dow, NatureWorks PLA is a commercially viable, renewable resource-based polymer to be used in large-scale commercial applications. Made from 100 per cent annually renewable resources, such as maize, NatureWorks PLA is fully compostable in municipal and industrial compost facilities.
"Our goal is to offer quality products to consumers without causing a negative impact on the environment," said Mario Spezia, sales director, IPER.
NatureWorks was initially test marketed in selected IPER shops in autumn 2001. The company has since gauged customer reactions and due to customer satisfaction in test cases is moving higher volumes of fresh food packaged with NatureWorks.
To educate customers about the role of NatureWorks, IPER is launching an in-store advertising campaign. In addition, the chain is educating employees about the product through a training programme.
"The high gloss and clarity combined with the flavour and aroma barrier exhibited by the polymer have consumer appeal, and offer a viable alternative for retailers to petroleum-based materials," said Stefano Cavallo, business development manager, Cargill Dow.
IPER worked in conjunction with Autobar Disposables Group of the UK, whose experience in food service disposables aided in the development of the thermoform container.