'At Micarna we look for efficient packaging which is simple and visually appealing. We have to be flexible in production, as our customers often order something the night before the required delivery date. We usually have about 200 products which go through our production line every day. In searching for a functional type of packaging for our seafood grill range we relied on proven partnerships to get the perfect result and came up with the TraySkin pack.
At the Ecublens site in the West of Switzerland fresh fish is now processed and packaged six days a week using two Sealpac A6 tray sealers adjacent to one another. The corresponding tools for different pack formats can be used on both machines and we can be flexible in our quantities and sizes.
The TraySkin packaging is not suitable for each of our products. For particular seafood items, such as pieces of salmon or shrimp on a skewer, it adds value, because the product is sealed directly onto the tray. It is protected by a film which is visible and has shelf-appeal.
Within the TraySkin system the tray is exposed to great pressure. It has to cope with a heated film, which is dropped over the product to fit its contours, as well as a heat-seal on the edge. During this process, strong forces are applied to the tray from different sides and it must withstand this pressure without deforming. After various tests, Bachmann Forming came up with a pre-fabricated thermoformed polypropylene tray with EVOH barrier (PP/EVOH/PE peel 500 μm), which can withstand temperatures up to 120 °C and due to the U-shaped sealing edge additional tray stability is provided.
The tray demanded a high-quality, transparent skin film with excellent barrier properties from Sealed Air because it had to show good peeling behaviour for easy opening. In the end, this led the company to its VST-0280 skin film, a 150 μm high-barrier film.
Film savings with InsideCut
Sealpac is known for its InsideCut system, which ensures an exact cutting of the film within the borders of the sealing edge. Until recently, this was not possible with the relatively new TraySkin system for protruding products. Sealpac’s engineers, however, were committed to find a way and in the end succeeded, so that Micarna can now offer a visually appealing package with less film consumption.
Another important aspect for us is the products in our seafood grill range should be easy to remove from their packaging. Packs that are difficult or impossible to open without tools are a common issue in our industry. A tray and lidding film with good peel properties is the first requirement. In addition, Sealpac has an EasyPeelPoint system, where the peel corner is integrated within the sealing contours of the tray. With an easy-to-grip peel tab, the top film is removed from the tray with minimum force.
Attention to detail
Due to the transparent film that fits the product like a second skin, the shape of the content can be seen and felt – a visual and tactile experience for consumers. A special feature of the seafood packs is that Micarna can use very flat trays, in which the products are presented. At the retail point, the seafood is securely positioned in its tray so it can be presented at eye level in stores – even hanging.
Saving the environment
Sustainability, which has evolved as a trending topic within the industry, plays an important part in the development of Micarna’s packaging. The commitment to greater sustainability is firmly anchored in our company philosophy, and starts with the purchase of our raw materials. That is why we changed to preservation-based fishery. Also, within the seafood segment we commit to WWF’s global award system, meaning we only buy from sustainable sources that are highly recommended, recommended or acceptable. Endangered species are now completely deleted from our product range.
The trend towards more sustainability also increases the demand for lower trays and thinner film. Still, in each project product safety should come first. As an example, we are currently using a 150 μm film, which works smoothly in the existing packaging process. It provides a good foundation for experimenting to further reduce the film thickness and the amount of material in the future. But it must not be at the expense of quality – this is where the biggest challenge lies for our industry.’
Micarna is part of M-Industrie, (belonging to the Swiss Migros Group), which owns 17 companies in Switzerland and three in the UK, France and Austria. Originally a meat specialist, it now runs a seafood factory in Zürich and Ecublens.