Growing demand for functional packaging of fresh produce that is suited for automation has prompted packaging group Stepac to tailor its branded range of Xtend Modified Atmosphere/Modified Humidity (MA/MH) solutions to be compatible with both automated bulk and retail packing lines.
According to Stepac, the move facilitates the use of "substantially leaner" packaging films, with multiple benefits of extending fresh produce shelf life, minimising food waste, and reducing the use of plastics, making for more environmentally responsible “green & lean” packaging.
The initiative exemplifies the company’s efforts to manufacture “purposeful” plastic packaging solutions that contribute to reducing food waste while having minimal impact on the environment.
“When analysing the carbon footprint of produce shipped in Stepac’s packaging - especially when shipped by sea versus conventional air freight - we see that the packaging has a ‘climate-positive’ effect; that is, the carbon emission savings resulting from its use exceeds the carbon emissions of the packaging,” said Gary Ward, technical development Manager for Stepac. “The transition to automated flowpack packaging significantly reduces the amount of plastic consumed, making the product even more ‘climate positive’.”
Stepac developed multiple film structures to support the shift to automated MA/MH packaging. For example, the Xflow bulk flowpack film reduces the amount of plastic packaging used by up to 40 per cent, while retaining its unique functions for substantially extending the shelf life of fresh produce in comparison to alternative options or if no packaging is used at all.
Xflow films for automated packaging are currently gaining momentum for packing different types of vegetables for foodservice in the US, where the use of Stepac's innovative functional films has been instrumental in boosting both operational throughput and meeting shelf life requirements.
The move to automated packing systems is good news for growers/packers who will enjoy the added benefits of lowered labour costs.
The new Xgo line of retail packaging encourages the packaging at source of fresh produce in high clarity MA/MH films ready for the shelves.