Flexible Food Packaging Trends to Watch in 2018

Flexible film packaging is still trending up and shows no indication of slowing down. That aligns with the needs of food manufacturers and every other link in the supply chain. In 2018 and beyond, expect to see and use more of it.

Innovation lets food manufacturers meet current goals and set new ones that they could not have imagined a few years ago. Interactive packaging, as one example, turns flexible films into access points for important product data. Nanotechnology helps flexible materials provide better protection against transfer and spoilage.

What is on tap for 2018? Plenty. Expect to see more of the flexible packaging that you rely on, new innovations that make it smarter, and greater strides toward sustainability goals.

Interactive Packaging Responds to Users and the Environment

The more the user knows about a product, the better. In a recent packaging study by Mintel, researchers learned that about half of Americans like the idea of scanning a package to learn more. Interactive packaging provides access to more information than space on a label could allow. It also responds to its surroundings and might have the ability to adjust.

Here is what Consumer Goods says is possible now and will only become more important in the future:

  • Sensors that log real-time product data
  • Scannable packaging with updatable, cloud-based information such as allergens, preparation tips, and product freshness
  • Films and film laminates that interact with users and the environment

The Third International Conference on Food & Beverage Packaging, which takes place July 2018, posits that sensing technology is a necessary component of intelligent packaging.

Nanotechnology Helps Reduce the Likelihood of Spoilage

Food packaging has trended toward smaller, lighter, and stronger for the past several years. Nanotechnology helps take the industry a step further in size and also helps packaging offer better protection.

The Food & Beverage Packaging Conference has added nanotechnology to the 2018 lineup. Here are some of the high points:

  • Improving strength and performance in a smaller and lighter package
  • Adding silver or titanium dioxide nanoparticle antimicrobials as spoilage retardants
  • Adding clay nanoparticles to improve barrier film resistance to oxygen, carbon dioxide, and moisture

Food Manufacturers Increasingly Adopt Lightweight, Flexible Packaging

In 2013, Food Processing said, “processors can’t get enough flexible packaging . . .” In 2015, the Flexible Packaging Association reported over $30 billion in sales for the previous year, which amounted to nearly 20 percent of the packaging market.

Here is where flexible packaging is headed now, according to a recent Smithers Pira report:

  • Total flexible packaging market penetration of $230 billion in 2017.
  • Annual projected growth of 4.5 percent, up to $283 billion by 2022.

Flexible packaging 

Sustainability Means Less Packaging, Less Waste, and Fewer Carbon Emissions 

Ask ten people for their definition of “sustainability,” and you will probably get ten answers. The thing is, they all have the same core: reducing reliance on raw materials, reducing waste and carbon emissions, and maintaining balance or improving current conditions.

In packaging, sustainability springs from environmental awareness. At CDF Corporation, innovation makes it possible. That was true in 1971 with the advent of drum liners that enabled steel drum reuse, and it is true today with the myriad flexible film packaging options.

CDF Green reflects our corporate social responsibility to make every flexible and semi-flexible packaging system that we produce sustainable and in harmony with the environment.

The coming year promises to improve on everything that you already love about flexible film packaging, from smaller dimensions and improved strength to reduced product waste. With nanotechnology and trackable product data, the next decade in flexible packaging could change everything once again.

If you are ready to learn more about flexible materials, CDF Corporation is ready to help. Download our corporate brochure today.

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4 Key Flexible Packaging Factors that Ensure Food Safety

Food safety requires protective materials and processes working in concert to keep food fresh inside and guard against outside contaminants making their way in. Flexible packaging gives food manufacturers a variety of choices that work for products with different natures, such as dry goods, oily foods, and beverages. It is not one solution, but many.

Details such as storage temperature, sterilization process, and transportation conditions all help define what each food product needs. With flexible packaging, chances are there is an effective, economical, and dependable material or combination of materials that ensure food safety.

Here are four key factors to consider in your food safety and packaging strategy.

#1: Different Barrier Films Have Different Types of Protection

Every flexible film is a barrier of some type. The difference is in performance.

Polypropylene is one of the most common films, often used as bread packaging. But it is not as durable or protective as some others. LLDPE can offer a high rate of oxygen transfer, making it ideal for fresh vegetables that need oxygen. However, for food where oxygen is an enemy, PET helps block transfer. It is also heat resistant and lends itself to laminating.

Lamination lets you customize flexible packaging by bonding two or more layers of materials. For example, PET with a metalized film blocks UV rays, oxygen transfer, and moisture.

#2: Flexible Film is Only as Good as Its Seal

The power of flexible film and laminated films to ensure food safety hinges on the packaging seal. Packaging may be sealed using an adhesive or heat and pressure. Without a strong, consistent seal, contamination, spoilage, and product loss are likely.

Leak tests, says New Food Magazine, cover the whole package—barrier film and seal—to measure packaging integrity. Weave in additional demands, such as retort processes, and packaging seals become at least as important as the balance of the packaging.

Flexible packaging

You can revisit data any time–even weeks or years later–to identify strengths and weaknesses and introduce improvements.

#3: Modern Machinery Collects and Analyzes Data for Better Packaging Product Control

Instead of learning after the fact that there is a seal defect or another manufacturing issue that affects food safety, modern manufacturing and filling machinery monitor the system in real time. If there is a flaw, the whole line may be shut down while the defect is corrected, minimizing product loss.

Data helps clarify what is working like it should and what is not. Today and in the future, historical data can be analyzed and used to develop better packaging and processes. Data can also help pinpoint both the time of a defective run and the volume of packages affected by it. This fits into the Four Elements of an Effective Food Safety Management System, says Food Processing, through “instant traceability and recall management.”

#4: Storage Temperatures Can Alter Transfer and Shelf Life

The higher the temperature, the less resistant packaging may be to oxygen transfer and deterioration. New Food Magazine says that an understanding of storage conditions, especially temperature as it relates to packaging integrity enables a more accurate shelf life estimation.

The higher the storage temperature, the higher the rate of transfer or migration. With a higher rate of transfer, shelf life diminishes. Higher temperatures may also affect whether and to what degree laminate adhesives migrate through packaging to contaminate the food.

Food safety has a lot of moving parts, each one affecting the others. With flexible film, you have an array of choices and combinations that protect against migration and spoilage. There is likely one that is better suited for the food, storage conditions, shelf life demands, and budgetary restrictions with which you work.

Download our corporate brochure today and learn more about the possibilities with flexible films. We will show you why food manufacturers around the world are either using it already or moving in that direction.

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Three Factors to Consider When Choosing Anti-Stat Packaging

Plastics do not conduct electricity on their own; they require special treatment. Otherwise, they are insulators. That means untreated plastics cannot discharge static buildup the way other materials can. Antistatic materials matter for electronics manufacturers, but they may also matter for manufacturers of food and any other product that uses plastic packaging.

Static buildup can cause a host of problems:

  • Dust sticks to untreated plastic packaging, making the product unattractive.
  • Dust buildup may contaminate the product when it is opened.
  • Static may harm the electronics in flexible film packaging and filling machinery.
  • Dust that sticks to plastics can work its way into machinery rollers, frames, and electronics components.
  • Plastic film may not feed or seal properly if there is dust buildup.
  • Static can spark, causing a fire or explosion if it contacts flammable materials.
  • Combustible materials are not just chemicals; some food products can explode, especially if stored in metal drums with plastic liners.

You do not have to be an electronics manufacturer to need anti-stat film. If you are in the market, here are three things to consider.

Do You Need a Static-Free Environment?

You might not manufacture electronics, but you may have electronic components throughout the manufacturing and supply chain. Plastic film manufacturing and filling machinery, for example, has sophisticated electronics that control machine operation, collect data, and more.

Static can cause plastic film to stick to itself and everything else. It also attracts dust and does not let it go. Imagine plastic film feeding through your machinery and carrying dust on every turn of a roller. It does not take long for dust particles to make their way deep into costly machines, where they can affect operation and cause damage.

If your business or anyone else’s in the supply chain also manufactures, stores, or transports flammables, antistatic materials might be more important. Although antistatic garments help, humans carry electrical charges. Human contact with untreated plastics can exacerbate the static electricity problem.

Health and Safety Executive states these are just a few of the products that could catch fire or explode in the presence of static electricity:

  • Cooking oils
  • Custard powder
  • Instant coffee
  • Potato powder
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Dehydrated milk
  • Many other powdered foods

What Type of Antistatic Packaging Works Best for You?

Antistatic materials come in a few different types. Some are simple in function and good for basic static protection. There are also treated plastic films that shield against static and those that resist isolated static charges.

  • Static-dissipative: Available in bags and tubes, these provide economical static dissipation protection. Special humectant additives can also create a shield around the packaging.
  • Static-shielding: Also available in bags and tubes, these plastics are usually multi-layered and either metallic or semitransparent. They block electrostatic fields.
  • Black conductive tubing: The third option in single-layer tubes or flat bags, this protects against static charges.
Antistatic materials

Static can affect expensive machinery, causing mechanical and electronic malfunctions.

Which Can You Find the Right Level of Static Protection?

Drums and pails are some of the most common packaging and storage options in food manufacturing. When you combine a plastic drum with a plastic liner, you have two components that are not conductive, making them a static spark hazard. Military or “mil-spec” and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are available in drum and pail liners.

Watch this quick video to see how CDF Corporation liners work.

CDF Corporation offers antistatic materials up to the highest military specifications.

  • MIL-B-81705C standards: the highest static decay and surface resistivity
  • NFPA-99: meets static decay time of .50 seconds or less at 50% +/- 2% relative humidity at a temperature of 23+/- 1°C./p>
  • Conductive liners: carbon-loaded polyethylene that meets MIL-P-82646A, MIL-P-82647 and NFPA-56A specs.

Antistatic packaging materials are well known in electronics manufacturing, but food manufacturing may also need it. Specially treated plastics can shield against static charges and dissipate them, keeping the products, people, and manufacturing equipment safer from contamination, fire, and explosion.

If your food manufacturing business needs the best antistatic materials available, CDF Corporation can help. Download our corporate brochure to learn more about our products and services.

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How to Choose the Right SQF Level for Flexible Food Packaging

When bad things happen upstream, those downstream suffer.

So the downstream people have a vested interest in making sure that the upstream people do things right.

That is the theory behind SQF (Safe Quality Food), an initiative to assure everyone along the food supply chain that what they buy meets quality and safety standards. SQF is a certification program administered by the nonprofit SQF Institute and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative. GFSI is an organization of about 400 food manufacturers and retailers worldwide that determines which food safety certifications are acceptable to its members and, by implication, to the industry at large.

In the United States, SQF is administered by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the leading trade organization for food retailers. FMI maintains a database of SQF-certified food manufacturers for its retailer members. It also hosts an annual Safe Quality Food International Conference to introduce new safety- and quality-related technologies, tools, and potential partners.

Sarah Malenich, the SQF Institute’s senior manager for sales and marketing notes:

“Obtaining SQF certification isn’t just about protecting consumers, food service providers, and retailers. It’s also about protecting the producers themselves. SQF Certification not only gives growers assurances that the food they’re selling has been produced to the highest possible standards, it also puts their contact information in an instantly accessible database that retail and foodservice buyers around the world can look to for suppliers they can trust.”

Food packaging

The SQF program operates on three levels. Level 1 is the most basic; it is appropriate for operations with inherently low levels of risk and is not recognized by GFSI. Level 2, unlike Level 1, incorporates elements of the HACCP approach (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) and is the most common level. Level 3, the most advanced, incorporates elements of quality management with food safety management.

All manufacturers must meet certain basic requirements for a HACCP-compatible Level 2 operation. These include (but are not limited to): management commitment, documented control and records, approved suppliers, corrective and preventive action, internal audits, validation and verification, and recall or withdrawal strategies.

As retailers insist on SQF-certified products from manufacturers, the manufacturers are also requiring SQF certification from suppliers, including packaging suppliers. Food packaging has its own “module” within the industry-specific set of modules that further define SQF requirements.

CDF Corp. has achieved Level 2 SQF certification for the drum and pail liners, intermediate bulk container liners, bag-in-box liners and other flexible packaging manufactured at both of its facilities. Containers used as retail packages, like bag-in-box, would have to have SQF certification to be used at an SQF food manufacturing facility. Managers of such facilities might well insist on its suppliers using SQF-certified packaging, such as IBC liners, for their ingredients.

To maintain its SQF certification, CDF has 30 quality and safety programs in place, including: document control, monthly management audits, pest control, chemical control, training, quality control, customer quality/complaint management, traceability, hold and release protocol, handling of glass and brittle plastics, sanitation, and maintenance.

To learn more about our SQF-certified products, download our corporate brochure today.

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