Cougar said it has joined forces with ARPAC-Hefestus USA to bring the innovative systems to the US market for the first time. Its key component, said the company, is that with fresh produce the vacuumless atmosphere packing system is gentler on delicate perishables.
Mark Cottone, Cougar president said the system, which would become part of the company’s Spiritus Food Packaging Solutions, was faster, used 90 per cent less power than conventional packaging systems, saved gas and was easier to maintain.
“The atmosphere we put into the packaging is injected at a fairly precise angle between the tray and film. That causes the current atmosphere to be flushed out,” Cottone said, comparing the system to the process of sucking cigarette smoke out of a car by opening a window.
He said the system created a flow inside the packaging that lets new gases in and old gases out. Because the film rests only about three millimeters above the tray contents, Cottone said the film settles, clamps down and gently seals the product.
Cougar spokeswoman Brooke Shipbaugh told FoodProductionDaily.com said its Shelf Life Booster technology brought oxygen in a package down to 0.5 per cent or lower, which it said was “unheard of in a gas flushing system until now”.
“Markets that have not been able to use a modified atmosphere packaging system before because of the delicacy of their products - such as bakery, fresh produce and others - are now able to benefit from this technology,” she said.
“Traditional vacuum systems would typically harm the texture and appearance of food like fresh fruits and baked goods. Our gas flush system is gentle enough to MAP even items as light as nuts, liquids and powders without disturbing the food inside. Also, with no mechanical vacuum, no food gets stuck in vacuum pipes which can create contamination.”
First US models
Because the food stays fresher longer it could “expand the market for many processors in regard to where they can ship and distribute food,” Shipbaugh added.
Cottone said: “We’re just now building the first U.S. models. It’s been in Europe 3-4 years now. I’ve never seen anything create more excitement in our industry than this.”