Brian Fisher, recently retired chief operating officer of packing firm Menu Foods, said that despite many successful new products, the retort pouch still faces major challenges if it is to secure a prominent place in the packaging industry. He said that the industry needs better sealing through contamination and improved systems to identify seal defects in line at speeds rivaling metal cans.
Fisher will be the keynote speaker at Retort Pouch 2004, the only conference focused exclusively on this fast growing flexible package sector. The event runs from 21 to 22 April 2004 in Princeton, New Jersey.
A sneak preview of the event reveals that technology is catching up with the requirements of the retort pouch packaging industry. Pak Technologies' new vision system for example can find seal defects and feed back corrective information at up to 300 ppm. Manufacturers such as Del Monte have adapted this system as a means of ensuring efficiency and increasing traceability.
For opaque seal areas, Packaging Technologies and Inspection offers in-line pressure systems plus ultrasonic or laser systems for lower speeds or off-line testing.
Another company, Tredegar, is launching faster pouch converting and filling equipment, which features new cast coextruded polypropylene films with lower seal initiation temperatures and broader heat seal ranges. The company claims that its enhanced clarity sealant films are perfectly suited to new clear silicon oxide microwaveable barrier films developed by retort technology group Mitsubishi Polyester Films.
The conference will also examine whether global European suppliers such as Amcor and Alcan will be able to wrest converted pouches from the dominance of Asian producers like Korea's Hyewon or China's Mayor. It will analyse the role of converters like Alusa from South America, where StarKist and other tuna is being packaged for export, and ask whether the Tetra Recart retortable carton system will be able to duplicate its European success in North America.