Tom Kjelgaard of Tetra Recart, Katarina Magnusson of Tetra Pak Research & Development and Ulf Ringdahl, a former Tetra Pak employee, have been recognised for their pioneering work on the packaging material.
"Specifically, they developed a packaging material structure that is sufficiently flexible during forming and filling to avoid cracking of the critical barrier layer," said the press release announcing the award, from the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
"It retains print quality and maintains an effective gas and vapour barrier throughout the retorting process. This development enables the production of a package that is both appealing in appearance and protective of the food inside over a very long period of time."
Tetra Recart, developed by Tetra Pak, is a square carton package made out of a new paperboard laminate material designed for food products traditionally packed in cans, glass jars or pouches. The carton packages can be used to pack wet shelf-stable products, such as chilli, which contain particles of any size, like beans and rice, with a shelf life of up to 24 months.
Tetra Pak argues that the Recart has several advantages. The concept is, in effect, a combined processing and carton-based packaging system for in-container sterilisation food. Running at a speed of up to 24,000 packages per hour, the production capacity of a Tetra Recart line is similar to that of modern canning lines.
The paperboard laminate material allows the product in the package to be sterilised in the same manner as the traditional canning process, and the package's laser-perforated easy-open feature allows consumers to open the package with no can opener, and presents no sharp edges. The Tetra Recart is recyclable.
In addition, the square shape of Tetra Recart offers efficiency gains throughout the distribution chain because up to 50 per cent more packages can be placed on a standard pallet.
In addition, food manufacturers are increasingly looking to new means of differentiating their products and as packaging technology advances, traditional packaging such as steel cans will likely come under increasingly more pressure from new innovations and concepts. These, such as Tetra Recart, purport to offer the same quality and safety features as the can - but with greater shelf appeal.
The Marcus Wallenberg Prize is awarded to individuals or groups, normally of two to three people. Its purpose is to "to recognise, encourage and stimulate path breaking scientific achievements which contribute significantly to broadening knowledge and to technical development within the fields of importance to forestry and forest industries".
H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will present the 2005 Marcus Wallenberg Prize to the winners at a special ceremony to be held in Stockholm this Autumn.