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Dole fruit puree in Cheer Pack pouches

Senior business development and sales strategy manager for Dole Packaged Foods Canada, Peter Stewart has a solution for parents whose child’s snack has been smeared across their vehicles backseat. In June 2008, Dole Packaged Foods Canada launched Squish’ems! Squish’ems! is a fruit puree packaged in Cheer Pack spouted pouches manufactured by the CDF Corp. The spout is designed to allow the puree to dispense freely, but also narrow enough to prevent the contents from spilling easily from the package. The pouches are also equipped with a resealable cap.

The Dole team was inspired by similar packaging for pureed foods in Europe. “We saw how successful the product with this format had been in Europe, and we know Europe is ahead of North America with their packaging ideas,” stated Stewart. “We agreed that if we could bring this package to North America, we would be ahead of the curve.”

However, the draw back from being ahead of the curve is not having a clearly defined road map to implement a new product.

“We saw the European packaging about two and half years before we actually ended up launching the product,” Stewart remarks. “It’s been a long, tortured path to the market. When we started this project there were I think two machines in all of North America that could do this.”

The Dole team had discovered a copacker in upstate New York that was equipped to work with the spouted pouches. “But it was a small company, and they eventually went out of business,” recalls Stewart.

During this time, Stephen Fairfield was consulting for a state-of-the-art form/fill/Seal facility in Mississauga, Ontario, which was suffering with poor sales. Fairfield recognized this as an opportunity. Fairfield and an investment partner incorporated Eco Container Corp. (ECC) and together began negotiating the purchase of the business.

ECC began talking with Dole concerning their Squish’Ems! project. In detail, Dole wanted to know if the facility in which ECC was to be purchasing would be able to fill fruit puree into Cheer Pack pouches.

“As it happened, the negotiation for the facility went south,” Fairfield stated. “We had a production contract done and signed with Dole, and no place to put the equipment, and the clock was ticking for the launch target date.”

Dole Canada was eager to get the product to market, they enlisted the help of the packaging manufacturer CDF Corp. “Dole led us to Eco-Container and said, ‘talk to them about doing the copacking and everybody kind of roller up their sleeves and got it done,” recalls Steve Gosling, CDF Corp., director of sales for Cheer Pack North America.

The companies identified the packaging machinery, including CHP40 filler from Gualapack S.p.A, being the best fit for the packaging application. ECC then created a new copacking business model that would ensure that the new operation would be sufficiently capitalized.

“Our business model is to go into an existing facility that has the trained staff and infrastructure, QC, logistics, accounting departments, etc. and we fund and maintain the equipment” Fairfield explained. “The facility’s owner has the advantage of no capital expense or ongoing maintenance costs, and secures better asset utilization. ECC covers the variable cost of running the equipment and provides a simple profit allocation.”

“And the investment bankers like the model as the entry cost is lower, which in turn provides for a competitive costing to the trade-so, it’s a good financial model,” Fairfield complements.

Canadian grown and processed apple cause, being the main ingredient in Squish’Ems! products currently on the market, arrive at the copacking facility in large totes. The apple sauce is mixed with the other fruit-based ingredients in accordance to Dole’s recipes.

After mixing purees, the product is heat-treated in a simple steam injection, tube-in-tube pasteurizer that has been modified with a heat exchanger to control the stream. Quality-control is conducted at a minimum of every half hour; however these checks have been clocked in at being every fifteen minutes.

From the pasteurizer, the purees go into two separate, but synchronized CHP40fillers. “They’re well built; fairly simple in design and solid,” say Fairfield “depending on fill amounts, and pouch capacity, each filler can run between 40 and 44 pouches per minute, with larger pouches easily accommodated with minimal adjustment or downtime. The model is calculated to deliver 83 percent production efficiency on a 24-hour shift, resulting in close to 96,000 pouches of approximately 8,500 kg of puree.”

Fairfield states, “the Gualapack fillers can handle a wide range of viscosities” and that, “fruit piece identity is possible, though it is limited to a fairly small size in order to clear the valving and fit through the pouch’s neck.”

The Cheer-pack pouch is vacuum-checked by the converter prior to its delivery to the packaging operation. The evacuation of the air from the pouch enables the pureed product to enter the pouch faster. Pouches are delivered at the copacking facility preloaded on rails, which are enabled quick loading into the filler’s magazines.

Once the pouches have been filled and sealed, they are on their way to a post-fill steam tunnel in which they receive a second heat treatment to more than 90 degree C to further ensure the integrity of the product. After exiting the steam tunnel the product is dropped into a cooling bath, the temperature ranging between 30 and 35 degree Celsius. Once finished with the cooling bath, the pouches are put into a drying chamber; the cooled pouches are dried by air knives. All the machinery used if from Gualapack.

Each pouch is coded by a Leibinger printer with the date, time and filler information. Once coded and cooled pouches are conveyed to manual pack-out area, where personnel manually shape the package for a smooth looking product. The pouches are then packed into colorfully printed paperboard cartons that are manufactured by Cascades, which also supply the case former and sealer.

Dole considered the flexible packaging an competitive advantage and didn’t want the secondary packaging to take away from any interaction the consumer may have with the product. Stewart states, “We wanted a window so people could poke it and feel it and touch it,” he continues, “the problem is that when you open up a carton, the window allows the product to move around. And it doesn’t present itself well within that window.”

Dole worked with Cascade to develop secondary packaging that would secure the pouch within the carton packaging but would also display the product nicely through the secondary packaging window.

Four pouches are inserted into each carton: two pouches are displayed with caps up and the other two caps down. The packing line personnel then hand-pack 12 Squish’Ems! Cartons into a master shipping case.

The product is engineered to have a 12-month shelf life, the Cheer Pack configuration used for Squish’ems! is a PET outer layer, laminated to aluminum with an inner sealant layer of PE.

The PET layer imparts a high-gloss finish; this enables the eight-color gravure printing done on Cerutti press by CDF partner Hosokawa Yoko.

The laminate structure of the package allows for the product to be stored in a wide range of temperatures. The packages are able to withstand very cold temperatures, with some parents reporting the ability to freeze the product. And yet, the same pouches are hot-filled during the packaging process.

Gualapack has created a safety cap, each pouch is sealed with a large-diameter, screw on cap. “This cap is 32 mm in diameter,” Gosling stated, “This means it won’t pass through the choke tube, therefore its considered to be child-safe.” According to Gosling, the cap meets the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Small Part Regulation, 16 C.F.R. Part 1501 and 1500.50-53.

Stewart continues, stating that even if a child was able to swallow the cap, it’s manufactured with enough venting that it wouldn’t create a total blockage.

Gualapack was awarded U.S. Patent D547, 657 S for the cap design.

Squish’ems! is performing well as  part of Dole Canada’s single serve fruit market, and adding children single serve is a huge component. Plans were made to expand the market in 2010 into two new flavors, grape and cherry.

Other sectors of Dole are considering the product and the reception within the market within their region. The U.S. group plans to develop a product similar to Dole Canada, but the U.S. will cater to a sweeter taste preference that cater to the American preference.

Flexible packaging to exceed $18 billion by 2015 in US

Gains in flexible packaging will reflect a rebound in the U.S. economy and will be supported by cost, performance and source reduction advantages over most rigid packaging formats, according to a new report from ReportsnReports. Rising demand for convenience-oriented and other further processed food items, which often use more costly higher barrier packaging materials for extended shelf life, will also propel growth in the U.S. converted flexible packaging market.

Converted flexible packaging’s source reduction capabilities will be increasingly advantageous in light of initiatives by major retailers and packaged goods firms to evaluate the packaging used by their suppliers in terms of eco-friendliness and cost reduction.

Pouches to exhibit above average annual gains
Above-average gains for pouches will be driven by continued conversions to stand-up pouches and healthy gains for flat pouches in a number of markets. Demand will also benefit from the presence of convenience features (such as zippers, spouts) and the emergence of new applications and product types (such as flat-bottomed, side-gusseted pouches and hybrid pouch/folding carton products).

In addition, stick pouches will experience rapid growth in single-portion packaging uses based on advantages of product differentiation and portability. Growth for bags will increase at a faster pace than in the 2005-2010 period based on an expected recovery in the U.S. economy from the 2007-2009 recession. However, gains will lag the overall converted flexible packaging average due to the maturity of many applications along with competition from pouches and rigid packaging.

While demand for paper bags and sacks will be constrained by performance limitations relative to plastic bags and sacks, growing efforts by packaged goods firms to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability will lead to some degree of renewed interest in paper, which possesses such qualities as renewability, recyclability and compostability.

Demographic, eating trends to benefit food applications
Above-average growth in food applications will be driven by the need for more costly films for extended shelf life along with demographic trends such as increased numbers of single-person and empty nest households and households where all adults work. These trends will boost demand for food in smaller package sizes and more convenient foods designed to reduce food preparation time.

Trends toward healthier eating and increased “on-the-run” eating will spur food manufacturers to expand their offerings of products, especially snacks, baked goods and beverages, in single-serving packages. Such products require more packaging than standard packages of similar items.

The fastest growing food packaging markets for converted flexible packaging will be beverage, meat and related products, and snack food uses. In nonfood applications, advances will be led by above-average gains in the pharmaceutical and medical product markets based on heightened barrier requirements, cost and convenience advantages, and adaptability to growing unit-of-use requirements. Moreover, benefits including product visibility, pilferage protection and good barrier properties will support continued demand in a range of uses.

Study coverage
This new industry study, “Converted Flexible Packaging,” presents historical demand data (2000, 2005, 2010) plus forecasts for 2015 and 2020 by material (plastic film, paper, foil), product (such as bags, pouches) and market (food, nonfood). The study also considers market environment factors, details industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles 35 industry players.

Explore Table of Contents and more details for this “Converted Flexible Packaging” report at www.reportsnreports.com/reports/131497-converted-flexible-packaging.html.

Source: ReportsnReports

Cheer Pack pouches at PLMA

cheer pack flexible pouches

PLMA’s Private Label Tradeshow will be held November 13-15 at the Rosemont Convention Center in Chicago, IL.  Steve Gosling will be representing Cheer Pack North America at PLMA. With more than 30 years of management experience, Gosling’s expertise has covered a wide array of applications throughout the packaging industry. His contributions have been largely focused in the areas of product management, engineering and new product development. In his current role as President of Cheer Pack North America, Steve is responsible for the successful integration of Cheer Pack into the North American market, including the support of co-packing facilities and filling equipment.

The Cheer Pack® is a flexible spouted pouch featuring a convenient, easy-flow straw and a reclosable, large tamper-evident, screw-on cap. This unique pouch format is ideal for packaging squeezable baby food and children’s snacks. Cheer Pack is available in a variety of sizes, styles and film choices.  Cheer Pack North America supplies a complete packaging solution, including package design and conversion, filling equipment options and technical support.