The packaging

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The packaging
by Karien de Villiers
34

| MILK & JUICE SEPTEMBER ’08

HOOFARTIKEL RETAIL

Packaging design is the only aspect that differentiates one product from another in the market place. It has now become a priority for most dairy and juice producers, who use it to establish a unique brand identity in a crowded retail environment.
As the market becomes more sophisticated, packaging in the dairy sector is likely to play an increasingly important role. Supermarkets are demanding new packaging styles to differentiate themselves from their competitors, catch consumers’ attention and improve revenues. Packaging also plays a role in communicating the additional benefits and added value of the product. As the global market for conveniently packaged products is growing exponentially, product innovations should be directly linked to changes in consumer trends and lifestyles. A major trend is “on-the-go” convenience, spurred on by fast-moving lifestyles, greater flexibility of working and leisure hours, and increased mobility. Single-serve beverages are becoming increasingly popular for away-fromhome consumption. Internationally there is a shift towards usercentered design (UCD). This approach looks at the physical, mental and sensorial aspects of how consumers interact with packaging. “An integrated user experience and UCD approach allows manufacturers to uncover user requirements and find gaps,” explains Lina Bonapace of Consultant ErgoSolutions, User-Centred Design and Ergonomics in Italy. According to Bonapace this approach enables packaging designers to: •	 	dentify new areas for packaging innovation I •	 	 ove from solving problems to creating M positive solutions •	 	 dd value to products and experiences A •	 	ncrease competitiveness and avoid I expensive redesign •	 	 nhance corporate credibility and image. E

Multifunctional dimensions The type of packaging used depends on the type of product. Pasteurised milk has no restrictions in the choice of packaging. Its shelf life is not affected by a barrier layer, because the shelf life is short and the milk is stored chilled. UHT milk, however, needs a barrier that keeps out light to prevent degradation of the milk. In an HDPE bottle, this can be accomplished by using a three layer coextrusion structure with a black middle layer to block light transmission. Sterilised milk, on the other hand, doesn't need a barrier layer to ensure shelf life. The milk is heat-treated after having been packaged – and therefore the packaging has to resist the heat treatment.

“Packaging also plays a role in communicating the additional benefits and added value of the product”
High density polyethylene (HDPE) has been widely used in the packaging of dairy products for many years. On the European continent, the round bottles used for sterilised milk were introduced in the late sixties. Later on, the milk packaging market in the USA changed from milk cartons to HDPE for pasteurised milk. The HDPE bottle used for pasteurised milk, was introduced in the UK in the early eighties. Thanks to its multi-functionality, HDPE is the only packaging material that can be used for all three milk types: Pasteurised, UHT and sterilised. Here are a few hot new trends on the local and international dairy packaging scene:  Flexible beverage packaging Drinkbax, winner of the annual German Packaging Award for 2007, is the first beverage application on the flexible packaging market. The soft Cyclero pack enables the consumer to feel the freshness of the product directly. The lightweight packaging is easy to carry and dispose of, and it has an outstanding life-cycle analysis performance.
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It has high barrier properties and therefore provides optimal product protection combined with minimum material input. Cyclero is produced on a form, fill and seal machine, with the ultrasonic sealing equipment. The product can also be pasteurised or sterilised to guarantee a long shelf life.  Aseptic cartons lead the UHT race Looking at the global packaging mix for UHT milk products, aseptic carton packs constitute the most in-demand packaging form, with around 80% of the market. According to surveys by Landel Mills, carton packs for UHT milk and dairy products will continue to enjoy positive growth up to 2008, at a rate of around +3% annually. This popularity is due in large part to the special properties of carton packs, including the protective function that carton packs offers for the product inside. Dairy products are protected from light, which means the natural flavour is retained. Consumers see carton packs as convenient and environmentally friendly. Carton packs are also easy to transport and store.  New PET-based material Although UHT carton packs remain popular, trends indicate that there is a strong consumer move towards bottles for UHT milk – particularly in countries where it is preferred to fresh milk. Packaging manufacturer, Amcor, recently announced the launch of single-layer plastic bottles ideal for UHT milk. According to Food and Beverage Reporter magazine, the company says this meets demands for quality products that are also good for the environment. The bottles are manufactured using Xamos, a new PET-based material developed by Amcor PET Packaging Europe. The company claims the Xamos achieves an extremely high capacity at a low thickness, providing greater protection from light damage and allowing the bottles to deliver a four-month minimum shelf life for UHT milk.

Environmental impact The issue of reducing environmental impacts of packaging, in terms of both production and waste, is becoming increasingly important. Industry demands for more environmentally sustainable, energy efficient and health focused products, have spilt over to include dairy and juice product packaging. Woolworths’s recent upgrade of its yoghurt range, is a clear indication that major retailers are moving towards more environmentally friendly packaging options. This is the first IML (in-mould labelling) packaging for yoghurt in the South African market.

“Consumers see carton packs
as convenient and environmentally friendly. Carton packs are also easy to transport and store”
Woolworths decided to move away from a polystyrene tub with an aluminium foil seal and asked Dairypack Tubs, a division of Polyoak Packaging, to develop an IML polypropylene tub with tamperevident lid for its 1 kg pack. This means that the pack is 100% polypropylene and therefore easily recyclable. According to Suzy O'Regan of Woolworths, the company needed the packaging to be made of a more environmentally-friendly substrate and all packaging needed to have the relevant recycling logo. With consumers primarily purchasing yoghurt according to fat content, and then according to fruit and flavour, the fat content variants also need to be clearly identifiable. The different lid colours work hand in hand with clear and simple label messaging, making identification on the shelf easy for consumers.

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Cost-effective packaging and logistics were top of mind when Dairypack decided to redesign its 3-litre dairy can. It allows eight 3-litre dairy cans (a total of 24 litres) to fit comfortably into a standard dairy crate. With 12 two-litre dairy cans being packed in a crate, this ensures that the literage per crate remains the same when delivering 3-litre and 2-litre cans. To minimise filling machine changes, the label area is at the same height as that of the two-litre dairy can. Therefore minimal labeling machine adjustments are required when changing over. Decoration of the bottle can be done using either adhesive labels or stretch sleeving. A fluid future Emerging markets in developing countries and

mature markets elsewhere offer differing yet definite opportunities for liquid dairy products packaging, according to a report by Warrick and Halling Research. Liquid dairy products offer co-packing opportunities, mainly for high added-value milk drinks, flavoured milks and so forth. Many of these products may be lowvolume and require short production runs with frequent pack changes, according to Dairy Industries International. In developing markets, opportunities will come from the market for fermented products. A high proportion of these products are sold loose or unpackaged. This provides an opportunity to offer low-cost pack formats, such as cups or pouches to persuade more affluent consumers to switch to packaged products.

The PET challenge When it comes to packaging UHT-milk and aiming to give it a shelf life of almost a full year at ambient temperatures, PETpackaging used to face a real challenge. Being very sensitive to light, the vitamins in milk can quickly degrade, losing their nutritional benefits and developing an unacceptable off taste, ultimately damaging

the brand. Protection from both visible and invisible light wavelengths has always been a crucial concern for milk producers. Nowadays PET containers can very effectively protect their contents from solar radiation and oxygen ingress – provided that the right barrier solution is chosen for an optimum level of protection. To keep the visible and invisible light waves well out of the container, many barriers are offered onto the market. ColorMatrix presents many such barriers, for example its Ultimate™ 390 range of products – a global compliance UV-barrier absorbing UV light up to 390 nm. Another ColorMatrix product relevant to the milk market, is the Amosorb® active oxygen scavenger, which provides an active barrier against oxygen ingress through the walls of PET containers. ColorMatrix has developed a range of different levels of light blockage across the spectrum and O2 scavengers and barriers, and has blown “demo bottles” designed specifically to show customers what the various protection options will look like. M&J

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