People are changing. Cities are emerging. And lifestyles have upturned. The traditional family dinners and daily cooking tasks have been replaced with growing urban workplaces and fast-paced jobs. That means less time to prepare the coveted home-cooked meal. The gender diversity in workplaces has inevitably fuelled the demand for ready-made and convenience food. Consequently, the frozen food industry is not only churning out everything from four-cheese pizzas to assorted dumplings but is also bustling to keep up with emerging trends such as sustainability and enhancing food freshness.
Good frozen food packaging materials should be moisture-resistant, durable, leak-proof and able to prevent dehydration and degradation of the food during its entire shelf life.
The global frozen food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 4% during the forecast period of 2016-2024. Just like most other food trends, the Asia-Pacific market for frozen foods too is growing at a faster rate thanks to the large populations of India and China and their respective urbanizations.
While frozen foods are preferred over fresh foods due to their long gestation periods, the packaging plays a crucial role in ensuring freshness, lengthening the shelf life of the product, and maintaining the
nutritional value of the food item.
The global frozen food packagingmarket can be dissected by materials — plastic, aluminium, cardboard, glass and wood. Among them, plastics are widely used as they can not only retain the food and its nutrition but also withstand high temperatures during cooking. For food manufacturers, plastics are cost-effective, lightweight and can be easily adapted to fit all and any kinds of food, without the fear of being chemically reactive to certain foods.
The growing demands from the food industry, however, have propelled continuous innovation. Recent innovations saw trends such as tear-notch openings, hanging holes, sealable zippers and single-serve packaging gaining prominence in urban areas and among the rapidly evolving consumer.
While multi-packs containing individual portion sizes save the consumers time, re-sealable packaging offers the ultimate convenience, particularly for single-person households.
Currently, vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) packaging is highly popular as it can survive harsh manufacturing and storing environments and is quite the answer to frozen food packaging woes. It not only boosts productivity and food safety, but also enhances visual appeal, thus making a product stand out.
In a first-of-its kind innovation, packaging solutions provider Parkside has developed a re-close pack for frozen foods using the company’s own unique laser scribe technology, in collaboration with Northcoast Seafoods, a UK seafood supplier. Paul Lenihan, business development manager at Parkside, said: “Frozen foods can be stored for longer periods and can be prepared easily. Our new pack provides consumers with a re-close feature, allowing them to easily open the packaging time and time again, with no compromise on the function of the pack.”
The Parkside pack design was created using a PET/PET laminate, which seals to APET and RPET trays. In addition, it utilizes Parkside’s specially developed adhesive and Parkscribe laser technology that allows the all-important re-close function in both ambient and freezer conditions without the loss of adhesion, giving consumers a usable portion control pack, he added. For now, these packs are being developed for frozen prawns and will soon be available across a range of Northcoast products distributed to UK retailers.
Stefano Rizzato, general manager of tna Packaging and Processing Solutions, said that while multipacks containing individual portion sizes save the consumers time, re-sealable packaging offers the ultimate convenience, particularly for single-person households. Here, the consumer can open a bag of frozen food with the peace of mind they can return the remaining contents to the freezer and the packaging will continue to offer protection throughout the product’s shelf life, minimizing waste food in the long term.