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Secure packaging can keep lid on food waste

18 September 2012

Over 7.2 million tonnes of edible food ends up in landfill in the UK every year, amounting to an approximate annual value of £12billion. The value of food wasted by an average sized family is estimated at £680 every year and food retailers and manufacturers loose approximately £5billion per annum.

These staggering statistics from the Guardian newspaper and government funded, environmental organisation WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), highlight the desperate need for more to be done throughout the entire supply chain to ensure there is less food waste, which will not only save money but also help the environment as less discarded food would end up in landfill.

Retailers and manufacturers have already made significant inroads to helping reduce the amount of food consumers buy and waste by taking simple preventative steps such as providing clearer date labelling and small pack sizes.

WRAP chief executive, Liz Goodwin announced in late 2011 that these initial waste reduction efforts carried out by the food industry had already saved the UK economy £1.8billion. Despite this achievement, many across the industry including leading packaging specialists KM Packaging Services Ltd thinks more can and needs to be done.

KM Packaging’s managing director, Charles Smithson, believes that the convenience food sector, in particular, could benefit from more reliable and functional packaging solutions, which would help achieve even greater financial savings and result in less product waste.

Mr Smithson said: “Fifteen years ago KM Packaging introduced an innovative lidding technology for smooth wall foil trays. This was designed to provide a superior seal that is reliable and secure whilst also being consumer friendly.”

This high performance tray sealing solution is now one of the most popular lidding options used by the food industry today. Its popularity has grown with the expansion of the chilled and convenience food market, which is estimated, to be worth around £2.3 billion by 2013.

This fast developing market has diversified rapidly and now not only includes traditional ‘tv dinner’ style ready meals but also includes pre-prepared meat joints, vegetable packs, desserts and salads. All of these different applications require their own specific type of lidding.

Mr Smithson continued: “Many of our customers have had bad experiences trying to seal smooth wall foil trays with lidding films from other suppliers. In many cases the lidding film seal fails and in the worst scenarios even falls off when the goods are already on the shelf. This can amount to a huge level of waste, and sometimes a complete product recall.

“With our significant experience of lidding smooth wall foil trays, and the extremely reliable and proven product range, KM Packaging has helped many customers successfully launch in this pack format, avoiding these risks.”
“We are committed to helping our food manufacturing customers understand how different lidding film materials will react in different environments, from processing and storage through to consumer preparation – without this help, customers can get this wrong and it can be very costly.”

Since the launch of its film for foil trays in the 1990s, KM Packaging has established itself as a global market leader in the supply and development of reliable lidding films. The company has an international reputation for not only delivering superior packaging solutions but also for its extensive technical raw material expertise and detailed understanding of food manufacturing processes.

It is this unparalleled depth of knowledge coupled with the company’s impressive network of raw material providers and film manufacturing experts that ensure its lidding solutions are able to meet specific customer requirements.

KM Packaging’s vast technical expertise also allows it to offer superior sealing for a wide range of other tray materials, including APET, CPET, Paperboard, PP, PVC and PS. All of the company’s lidding solutions have been carefully designed to help extend shelf-life, improve product presentation and ensure superior consumer usability.

With lidding film being the cheapest component of convenience packed meals when compared with the cost of the food and tray, it is crucial to ensure optimum functionality, not just in terms of delivering a secure packaging solution but also in terms of improving shelf-life and overall product presentation.

Extending shelf-life can save retailers a fortune by reducing the amount of unsold food on their shelves but achieving this has been a challenge for a lot of processors who have struggled to do this without causing any detriment to product quality.

However, KM Packaging’s flexible and forward-thinking approach in developing multi-layer, high barrier films has proven it can help food manufacturers meet the demands for more efficient packaging, whilst still protecting the integrity of the food.

With the convenience food market continuing to evolve, competition within the sector is also intensifying. This has resulted in greater need for improved product appearance, which until recently has been achieved by using image based cardboard wraps used to enhance appetite appeal.

Mr Smithson commented: “With the industry under increasing pressure to reduce packaging costs there has been a marked shift towards the removal of full, outer wrapping sleeves. From this there has been a definite increase in the take-up of high clarity lidding solutions, which can have a much greater impact on product appearance.

“Consumers want to see more of the product they are actually purchasing and have responded well to this new way of packaging convenience foods. We have developed a range of technologies that ensure our films deliver maximum clarity, prevent fogging on the lid, provide exceptional toughness and impact resilience and are also available with retort processing capabilities.”

To ensure lidding technology meets the variety of demands placed on it, KM Packaging boasts an impressive selection of lidding films. KM has a dedicated testing area, which is equipped with sealing, cooking, chilling and freezing facilities, enabling a range of trials to be undertaken to ensure the lidding film and tray are compatible, whilst also satisfying the manufacturer’s budgetary and aesthetic requirements.

Food manufacturers need packaging services like these to ensure the right sealing so that food will stay fresher for longer, which will bring huge benefits in the battle to reduce the amount of untouched food discarded in the UK each year.

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