Tim Love, vice president of sales for Mullinix, told FoodProductionDaily.com consumers—with less time to cook, but more interest in food quality and health—are a lot different than consumers of decades past.
“There are no Mrs Cleavers at home, whipping up home-cooked meals and taking care of the house,” he said. “Now, we’re multi-tasking, and there are a lot of time challenges.”
Love added, consumers are more likely to seek out fresher, more healthful options in packaged foods:
“The days of the country-fried steak and gravy, and the triple-layer burger, have given way to berries and whole-grain wheat,” he said. “Similarly, our packaging has undergone a transformation.”
Those changes, he told FPD, include containers that keep on the shelf longer (because shoppers can’t hit the supermarket every day) while protecting food flavor and quality, since consumers still want fresh-tasting edibles. Appearance of the packaging and, frequently, ability to get a good look at the appealing product inside are important.
“We buy with our eyes,” he said.
Love pointed out packaging that prevents oxygen from reaching the food inside, thereby degrading taste and quality, is key in maintaining the long shelf life that buyers crave. Mullinix recently launched OxyRx, a PET-based oxygen scavenger packaging material that reportedly allows zero oxygen permeation to enhance PP/EVOH packages by boosting shelf life to as long as four years.
According to Love, OxyRx can be produced with a high degree of clarity in low-temp applications; it can also be crystallized for retort and high-heat applications. The shelf life can be adjusted according to the needs of a particular product.
Additionally, Love said, the material is tough enough to stand up to the greater demands placed on small-portion convenience packaging.
“Smaller packages withstand greater pressures,” he said. “The higher the surface to volume ratios, the higher the demands on the material.”
Love said the product can be used to contain a broad range of products. For example, he mentioned, it is suited for heat-and-eat products, such as meals and soups.
Love spoke at The Packaging Conference, an annual, three-day event focused on packaging for food, beverage and other industries. Sponsored by Plastic Technologies Inc. and SBA-CCI, the event tackles a range of concerns, including sustainability, metal packaging advances, shelf-life improvement and more.