Global adoption of groundbreaking Shieltron microwave packaging is happening across the course of 2013, according to Shieltronics, the company behind it.
The company has just announced the release of a new generation of Shieltron Foils for selective shielding of microwaves in food containers.
The patented foil can be applied as an in-mould label, lidding seal foil or pouch and allows customized packaging for chilled convenience food.
Dick Geheniau, managing director of the firm, which is based in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, told FoodProductionDaily.com in October that its packaging was being rolled out across Europe.
Partnerships in Asia
Now he says the company is working on partnerships in Asia and he expects a flurry of interest from European and US supermarkets after initial launches into foodservice channels.
The packaging can provide 5-100% shielding of microwaves depending on the application. It focuses the amount of microwave exposure that different parts of the same product receive, enabling more even and selective cooking, for example, delivering hot food with cold sauces or salads.
Because it could cook products more evenly, it could also heat quickly and in one go foods that previously had to be taken in and out of the microwave for stirring, said Geheniau.
He added that Shieltronix was in the process of developing a soup cup that prevented messy spattering caused by uneven cooking in the microwave.
He said it had initially been targeted at manufacturers supplying foodservice outlets such as restaurants, as it was able to drastically reduce cooking times, while delivering the same quality as traditional cooking methods.
“About eight to nine months ago we made a special campaign [for restaurants] to keep hell out of the kitchen [riffing off celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s famous ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ television series],” he told this website.
Added value and convenience
By contrast, retailers had been slower to convince because of the price premium inherent in products using the packaging, he said. However, he said they were now being persuaded that consumers would be prepared to pay extra for the added value and convenience.
“Foodservice got to it first because retailers are penny wise and pound foolish. We are slightly more expensive than normal in-mould labelling packaging, but there’s a very big need for convenience. You have to add between 30-50% to the cost of previous forms of packaging.”
“We have been working on this project now for about 20 months and in the UK at the end of the third quarter (Q3) we will launch into retail and by Q4 we’ll be in fast convenience channels."
Full-scale roll out
Commercial take-up has already begun in EU countries such as Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland, and Geheniau expects full-scale roll out in the US half way through this year.
He said Shieltronix technology could also be used to make Chinese or Indian-style bento boxes, which consisted of different compartments of food cooked in different ways at varied temperatures. For example, some Indian dishes mix hot, spicy curries with cold condiments.
“There’s a lot of interest coming from Asia and within three to four months we will have a production line ready to explore the market in China,” he added.