A number of projects are currently taking place as part of the development phase and consumers can expect to see products on supermarket shelves in the coming months, said Martijn Scheffers, international sales manager, Sealpac.
Close co-operation with packaging material suppliers
Speaking about ‘Innovations in TraySkin’ at Anuga FoodTec 2015, he said ‘skin’ film uses less packaging material and it is not proven that skin pack is more expensive than MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging).
“The first ovenable tray skin films are coming out onto the market now, but it’s still very new,” said Scheffers.
“It requires a close co-operation with packaging material suppliers, not just for the food product but for instructions on how to prepare the food, time and temperature are crucial both for the material and the product.
“We see a lot of ready meals coming onto the market, another trend is ready meals that are being packed using HPP (High Pressure Processing). We saw that first in the meat industry now it’s coming to the ready meal sector.”
According to Scheffers, benefits of tray skin packaging include reducing pack volume, which reduces volume for logistics in-house and transport, because manufacturers need less trucks to move the product.
“It allows for more space in the supermarket because it can be used in a vertical presentation giving it optimal visibility and showing something different from the product of its on shelf neighbor,” he said.
“Another benefit is shelf life extension, especially on fresh products because it uses a vacuum process. With skin in a microwave or in an oven there is no need to pierce the pack, when the first microwaveable materials came to market the consumer had to puncture holes in the top of the film.
“Half of the product was heated whereas half would remain frozen so you had to cook it twice. Skin builds up pressure and then a vent opens to let go of the pressure.
“A growing trend today is ‘no-touch cooking’, purchasing something and then eating it straight from the pack. People don’t like to touch food such as seafood, fresh poultry and meat and tend to purchase convenience products that supply a no-touch cooking potential.
“Because the skin film has a secondary seal you can create a meal as you would like to see it on your plate, nothing is more transparent than that, a lot of ready meals today with MAP are covered in a broad sleeve and a picture stored in compartments, with skin you can see the product exactly how it would look on the plate.”
Scheffers said it was seeing more demand for high protruding packs for bigger pieces of meat 90mm above the tray ledge and skin products for seafood such as herrings.
“Skin is a hot topic as a concept, not only at producer but retailer level especially in Europe. It became popular in the UK about two years ago and now it is growing in other parts of Europe as well as countries such as Australia and Japan,” he said.
“Printed skin films are also coming into development and leads to new ways how manufacturers can show their product to the customer, you can be very creative. Retailers are asking for it, producers are confronted with increased demand. It is at the beginning of its product life but it will grow further in demand.”