Multiple benefits claimed for ‘unique’ vacuum-packed foil tray

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Shelf life, Packaging

Lightweighting, extended shelf life and enhanced product presentation are benefits claimed by Nicholl Food Packaging for its “unique” vacuum-packed oven-ready foil tray.

The new Skinfoil tray, developed in partnership with Bemis and Multivac, is being launched in the UK. The system features a special film that seals to all surfaces of the tray – rim, sidewalls and base – thereby tightly covering the entire contents.

Suitable for a wide variety of food products such as ready-to-cook meals, fish and seafood, game and fowl, meat and sausages, its key benefits include pack minimisation, reduced food wastage, no leaking and product protection.

“Light weighting percentage is achieved by removing the space above the product for gas headspace,”​ a company spokesman told “This is product dependent - but 20 per cent can typically be achieved. As some products can protrude above the flange, careful design could achieve 50 per cent reduction for some serves 1, serves 2, or serves 4 products, though new shallower foil trays would have to manufactured.”

Smaller pack sizes also offer environmental benefits in terms of lower weight and reduced handling and transportation costs, said the company. The trays offers an enhanced shelf life of up to 10 days for certain products and cooking processes – although Nicholl said that longer times are possible.

“We have customers who obtain up to 30 days shelf life for selected products, but in the UK, FSA (Food Standard Agency) regulations restrict shelf life to 10 days for both MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) and vacuum packed mainstream products, unless stringent supply chain restrictions are adhered to with regard to temperature, or salt content of the product,”​ said the spokesman.

He added that one UK customer achieved four extra days shelf life on 500g poultry mini-joints.

Product appearance

The all surface coverage and high transparency of the Bemis developed film ensures all food items are held securely in place and product presentation is maximised. It also means the packs can be displayed vertically if required to optimise shelf fill or product visibility. The fixed placement of the food furtheroptimises product protection during transit and on-shelf, and the film can prevent freezer burn.

“The skin is both sealed to the flange and the inside of the tray, and holds the food in place, so vertical presentation is possible for most foods,”​ said the Nicholl spokesman.

Jim Campbell, of Multivac UK, said the space-saving and presentational advantages offered by vertical display was something that more and more UK retailers were tapping into.Multivac.UK has developed a bespoke Skinfoil tray-sealing machine that is retrofittable on its existing systems, he added.

The film is flexible enough to accommodate variable product dimensions or quantities, with the skin packaging being adjusted for different product shapes. A top lidding film, sleeve or band can also be added to enable the trays to be stacked effectively. Both the skin and top lidding film are easily peeled, said Nicholl.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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