KM Packaging has worked alongside tray manufacturer, i2r Packaging Solutions, to create an aluminium tray with transparent lid for a UK supermarket ready meal.
The company, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, faced technical challenges of anti-fog and potential risk of product contamination to create 50 trays with two different lids for hot and cold peel.
Alan Lockhart, business development manager, KM Packaging, said the product’s cream laquered surface was demanding because it has different qualities to aluminium and the film lid had to conform to criteria including hot and cold peel, be oven efficient, anti-fog, and safeguard contamination of pre-cooked food.
Minimal sleeve packaging trend
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily about the popularity of ready meals, Lockhart said: “The ready meal market is seeing a surge in demand for oven-ready products that are the same quality as ‘home made’.”
“Consumers want to see as much of the product as possible, hence the trend towards minimal sleeve packaging. Convenience foods are still about speed but more about sophistication of both ingredients and presentation.”
KM Packaging would not disclose the name of the supermarket or the product but said because the film lid stays clear, the size of the outer sleeve was significantly reduced so the contents are more visible for on-shelf appeal for shoppers. It now plans to create the tray in other colours apart from cream.
Fog Buster anti-fog film
“There was no market for aluminium trays for ready meals until KM Packaging developed more technically advanced lidding than, say, plastic trays 15 years ago,” said Lockhart.
“As well as retaining superior clarity and seal integrity the Fog Buster anti-fog film is a much more cost-effective packaging option which is still going strong today,” said Lockhart.
“We are now creating products for oven-cook casseroles, which can withstand lengthy roasting times; a breakthrough extending the shelf life of non-refrigerated ready meals for up to 12 months and a triple tray for fresh ingredients that each demand different packaging atmospheres.”
Film selection is key
The firm makes heat sealable lidding films for premade food trays, tubs and pots for ambient, frozen or chilled prepared convenience foods. It also has flexible packaging for the confectionery sector including aluminium foil wraps, laminates, twist wraps, cold seal, pouches and bags.
The difference in lacquered trays to aluminium ones is the different finishes and surfaces which respond differently to packaging and cooking processes.
“To protect against a potential risk of product contamination film selection is key,” he said.
“The film is tested and trialled extensively to ensure it has superior sealing/peeling characteristics and we try to identify key functionalities that would be affected by different processing techniques, storage atmospheres and logistic conditions of products.”
Confectionery and dairy aluminium foil
The company recently expanded its strategic alliance with Istanbul-based Ispak, part of international manufacturing group Kibar Holding, to further develop the supply of confectionery and dairy aluminium foil based flexible packaging to the UK, US and Australian markets.
Ispak, is a sister company of Assan Aluminium, which produces rolled aluminium foil at the same manufacturing site in Istanbul. The product range includes rotogravure printed unsupported foils, extrusions and laminates and heat-seal coated foils.
KM Packaging also has clients in the UK, Europe, Canada, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.