ArticleSolution Based Barrier Food Packaging Advancing Rapidly!

ArticleSolution Based Barrier Food Packaging Advancing Rapidly!

arrier packaging plays a vital role in protecting the quality of food from spoilage or degradation caused by oxygen, moisture, and bacteria.

Passive barrier layers limit oxygen and water vapor transmission into the package while vacuum packaging or modification of the gas in the package by purging with nitrogen or carbon dioxide provides additional protection.

Astute consumers, who want more functionality and who order online in increasing numbers are requiring a whole range of new, rigid and flexible food barrier technologies, like:

  • Thinner walled containers
  • Longer shelf life products
  • Transparent metal can replacement through sustainable antimicrobial film additives, and
  • 3D printed packaging mold advances

So, to keep up with the consumer needs — game-changing barrier innovations continue to evolve in the food packaging sector opening new opportunities.

» Review latest barrier innovations, promising materials & technologies for enhanced packaging benefits.

Let’s take a look at these latest barrier food packaging advances that can make our research work better.

#1 Plant Derived Plant Derived Antimicrobial in Multilayer Film Packaging

Fraunhofer IVV is working on the use of natural, plant-derived antimicrobials for packaging. Application of packaging materials that release antimicrobial substances to food surfaces is an attractive option to reduce and inhibit non-desirable microbial growth due to contamination and to prevent food loss.

Natural antimicrobial compounds are often preferred to synthetic substances. Fraunhofer has identified suitable antimicrobial substances, such as pelargonium and olive leaf extract, which are encapsulated to protect them during processing. They have been dispersed in polymers, coated on films, extruded, and intensively tested.

Work so far indicates the natural antimicrobials are suitable for extrusion and coating, and can withstand the processing temperatures involved.

Fraunhofer IVV's Plant Derived Antimicrobial Additive Technology for Packaging
Fraunhofer IVV’s Plant Derived Antimicrobial Additive Technology for Packaging


#2 Aluminum Replacement in Flexible Packaging

Valentis has developed a special coating to be integrated into a polymeric laminate which eliminates the use of aluminum foil in high barrier flexible packaging. The company has collaborated with one of Israel’s leading agricultural thermoplastics applications companies.

Valentis’s technology combines nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) with additional nanoparticles to produce highly improved polymeric films. Used as a coating for increased strength or as a barrier against UV rays, oxygen and moisture, these films can be used in a diverse range of applications.

An initial product is a special coating to be integrated in a polymeric laminate, which eliminates the use of aluminum foil in high barrier flexible packaging for foodstuffs.

Valentis' Nanocrystalline Cellulose Additive Technology
Valentis’ Nano-Crystalline Cellulose (NCC) Additive Technology


#1. A. Schulman’s Simplified Multi-layer Structure

LyondellBasell’s A. Schulman division has completed research where multi-layer barrier structures could be simplified if EVOH, the oxygen barrier layer, could be protected in a different way. EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol) is commonly used in barrier film structures because of its high oxygen barrier.

However, its sensitivity to moisture means that it must usually be protected within a multilayer structure of its own, which makes manufacturing the film more complex. Rather than doing this, which usually means making at least a five-layer structure, A. Schulman proposed protecting the EVOH by incorporating it into a polymer blend. This is a traditional method for improving the gas barrier of a polymer by blending it with another higher barrier polymer.

A. Schulman’s current approach is different to some previous efforts as it uses a pre-compounding process to ensure that the multilayer morphology forms after resins are extruded into thin films. This is because the choice of polymeric compounds, in this case, EVOH and a highly dispersible polyolefin such as LLDPE (Linear Low-Density PolyEthylene), with proper compatibility and a viscosity match ensures that they will form into ‘linear bands’ when extruded, which approximates to the structure of a multilayer film.

One blend formulation, called B24, gave similar barrier properties as actual multilayered films. This film could easily be embedded into other multilayer films. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) images show that A. Schulman’s directly extruded B24 blend has a similar structure to a traditional multilayer film.

A. Schulman’s Directly Extruded B24 Blend (L), Traditional Multilayer Film (R)
AFM Image Shows A. Schulman’s Directly Extruded B24 Blend (L), Traditional Multilayer Film (R)


#4 Graham Packaging’s ThermaSet ‘Glass-Like’ Blow Molded PET Bottle

This ThermaSet blow-molded PET container for hot-fill, pasteurized food recently earned DuPont’s Diamond top packaging award. Among Thermaset’s key attributes are:

  • 50% greater side wall rigidity
  • Extended shelf life of two years or more through barrier technology
  • 90% lighter-weight than glass; shatter-resistant drop-in glass replacement on high-temperature fill lines
  • Thinner walls mean a narrower jar that frees shelf space and is easier to handle

ThermSet is a blow molding process in which standard bottle-grade resin is transformed into containers with properties way beyond existing PET. The jar looks a bit narrower, but its enhanced stiffness has the feel of glass. This type bottle package is ideal for grocery store center new product offerings. Its economical bottle size in center store display layouts yields extra store facing presence.

In the longer-term e-commerce boom, this type PET package is safer than glass in transport and at the final consumer delivery point!

Graham Packaging's ThermaSet Blow Molded PET Bottle
Graham Packaging’s ThermaSet ‘Glass-Like’ Blow Molded PET Bottle


#5 Rapak’s Oxygen Barrier Film Packaging for Bag-in-Box Wines

Albis collaborated with DS Smith to incorporate its Shelfplus oxygen scavenger in a bag-in-box film. It can increase the shelf life of wine after opening significantly — from 4-6 weeks to at least 26 weeks.

Developed for the Rapak division of DS Smith, the oxygen scavenger bag is used in a complete bag-in-box packaging system. The film package incorporates the low oxygen transfer rate Mustang wine tap developed by sister company Worldwide Dispensers. EVOH (Ethylene vinyl alcohol) in combination with Shelfplus can replace metallization in barrier packaging. Thus, it provides equal or better shelf life with low package carbon footprint.

It can be applied in film applications as well as for thermoforming.

Oxygen Scavenger in Albis Bag-in-Box Film Packaging
Rapak’s Shelfplus O2 Scavenger from Albis Bag-in-Box Wine Film Packaging


#6 Sonoco’s TruVue See-Through Plastic Can

TruVue, a see-through can being developed by Sonoco using its patented FUSION Freshlock Technology also features a multi-layer plastic wall with an easy-open metal top and a metal bottom.

The can’s five-layer wall includes PP (PolyPropylene) on the inside and outside of the can with two layers of adhesive to bond the PP to a center EVOH layer that acts as an oxygen barrier. Sonoco in a pipe like manufacturing process is extruding the can wall. Then the open can top and bottom has metal ends crimped onto them, followed by an induction heat sealing finishing step.

Standard full retorting than takes place with reduced cycle times and uniform through food product heating performance.

Sonoco's TruVue See-Through Plastic Can
Sonoco’s TruVue See-Through Plastic Can

#7 HRSflow Hot-Runner Solutions

Commercially viable thin-wall plastic structures must be easy to process and respect required performance properties such as barrier attributes.

High performance can be achieved thanks to HRSflow hot-runner solutions! They utilize a 3D printing steel process that delivers optimized cooling channels with reduced cycle time.

It is a highly wear resistant system and lends itself easily to multicavity molds for high volume molding of single serve coffee capsules with thin walls where maintaining extremely uniform barrier properties is critical.

HRSflow Hot-runner Solutions
HRSflow’s 3D Printing of Conformal Mold Cooling Channels (L); Single-Serve Coffee Capsules (R)


#8. Bemis Odor Recognition Packaging

Organoleptics such as odor recognition can affect the consumer’s impression of freshness in vacuum-packaged meat products. A new technology from Bemis is intended to provide a solution to this problem. When combined with low oxygen transmission rate (OTR) films, vacuum packaging extends meat shelf life by reducing headspace oxygen. This in turn, decreases the growth rates of spoilage bacteria and minimizes the organoleptic effects of lipid oxidation. However, Bemis R&D claims that an unintended consequence of using low OTR packaging is the development of confinement odor.

Although this odor quickly dissipates once a package is opened; its detection by the consumer has a negative impact on acceptability. Confinement odor is a particularly vexing problem for the poultry industry.

In odor suppression Bemis technology uses potassium sorbate, an FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) compliant food ingredient. It is compounded into the food-contact layer of the packaging inside an oxygen barrier. The novel combination of potassium sorbate modification and low OTR packaging films results in slower bacteria growth rates as well as suppression of confinement odor. The new Bemis technology will help poultry processors estimate ‘sell-by’ dates with added precision and better corroborate consumers’ freshness expectations. Additionally, shelf life extension techniques like this help producers reduce food waste.