Good news for the packaging industry: There are signs that aseptic packaging is growing rapidly in the U.S, and it will continue to do so.
According to a report from one global technology research and advisory company, based on a comprehensive market analysis from industry experts, the global aseptic packaging market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9 percent over the period 2013-2018. A key factor driving this market growth is the increasing demand for aseptic packaging in the food and beverage industry. The growing number of eco-friendly products is also contributing to this growth.
Aseptic packaging gets a consumer very close to fresh food, in terms of both taste and nutritional value. Aseptic processing and packaging also keeps a product shelf stable, and this ability can help a company expand into countries outside the U.S. that do not have suitable “cold chain” distribution (i.e., temperature-controlled supply chains that maintain a given temperature range to help extend and ensure the shelf life of products such as fresh produce, frozen food or seafood.)
If you or your organization intends to enter this flourishing market, you will want to identify the best, most effective aseptic packaging providers. Here is a list of characteristics typical of the most highly effective aseptic packaging providers:
1. Professional Packaging Consulting — The best aseptic packagers employ people who have the professional know-how to handle the unique needs of your market. This may include packaging for the unique characteristics of your product, creating a design that fits the utilization of your product, and working closely with you to meet your most important goals. Chief among these is meeting the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for creation and maintenance of commercial sterility. Make sure you have such talent available to you.
2. Flexibility in Package Construction and Design — The best aseptic packagers are able to provide a variety of package designs and formats that are compatible with product characteristics, shipping demands and end-user requirements. This begins with the selection of production equipment that meets the FDA’s standards. In the specific case of pouches, an FDA-validated system that converts barrier film roll stock into containers that are both aseptically filled and hermetically sealed is required. Alternatively, pouches that are filled, heat-sealed and sterilized by retort processing are also available. Either production method, whether it is roll stock or a pre-made retort pouch, will result in shelf life comparable to canned products. Spouted pouches can also be designed to allow the end user to pour out a variety of food or beverage products and reclose the pouch afterward. Shaped pouches can give a product or brand a distinctive look. The shelf presence of shaped pouches can be enhanced significantly when combined with high-quality printing options, such as multi-color rotogravure processes, or special finishes, such as a matte lacquer.
3. A Variety of Material Structures — Make sure the aseptic packaging supplier you choose offers a range of material structures that are suitable for the commercial sterilization process and filling process. These films should also be designed to provide the particular barrier properties necessary for long term shelf-stable preservation of the product it will contain, for example certain product are susceptible to degradation form oxygen, thus a film structure that contains an oxygen barrier must be used. Lastly it will be necessary that you have access to material constructions that are (or will be) validated by the FDA.
4. High Level of Output — You should learn from your prospective providers what they expect the validated production output will be. In that way, you can be sure that it is compatible with the output of the processing system that will feed it. You can also ensure that the batch retorting process (post filling) will keep up with output.
Once you have decided to use aseptic packaging to protect your shelf stable products, finding the right partner is critical to your success. When considering a flexible packaging supplier to handle your most demanding applications, look for an organization that can bring together consulting, design, materials and output. These qualities will insure the odds that you have found the best partner available. You can review the high- and low-acid aseptic packaging offerings at Fres-co System USA, Inc.
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