A trend towards snacking rather than formal meals and the growth of single person households have increased the demand for single-serve potions, according to a report by Research & Markets. Consumers are also demanding even more convenient foods, such as ready-meals which can be cooked in microwave ovens.
Graphics Packaging originally designed the sleeve at the request of Netherlands-based Beckers, which wanted to improve the performance of its package for a particularly oily treat called Vleeskroketten. The meat-filled croquette is a deep fried snack mostly sold at "frituur-style" take-away shops in many European countries.
Beckers , a food manufacturer, wanted its microwavable version to mimic the taste of the original. Graphic Packaging took six months to develop a microwave sleeve made up of a metallised film on one side for browning and crisping and a moisture absorbing material on the other side.
The two sides are laminated together on paperboard, then holes are strategically placed in the sleeve so oil can easily move away from the cooking surface and into the absorbing material.
"Because the product has a high oil content, the package needs to both absorb oil and contain moisture, so microwave cooking at home can properly duplicate the taste and texture that consumers have come to expect in the eat- out version -- namely a crisp exterior and a soft, moist interior," stated John McDonnell, Graphic Packaging's microwave product marketing manager.
Graphic Packaging shipped the microwave sleeve to Beckers in August for introduction to the marketplace in the Netherlands. Now the Atlanta-based packaging company wants to open its market to a wider range of foods.
Beckers is a part of Royal Wessanen, the Dutch-based food conglomerate.