Commissaries, central kitchens and other off-site facilities that provide prepared and other foods to grocery stores must be especially vigilant when it comes to one critical aspect of packaging: making sure product stays fresh. Having an extra link in the supply chain creates hurdles to achieving that goal. 

For Shelton, Connecticut-based Inline Plastics, ensuring product freshness starts with DPET, a high-quality, durable and sustainable material, says Sarah Korwek, product manager.

DPET is used in Inline’s Safe-T-Fresh line of products, which in addition to offering the industry’s first tear-and-strip tamper-evident technology, has also been designed to maximize product freshness, Korwek says.

“Our technology creates a tight seal, preventing leaks and extending the shelf life and reducing food waste,” she says.

When it comes to commissaries, central kitchens and other facilities, Inline is seeing growing demand for its grab-and-go and prepared foods products, Korwek says.

For products that are handled more and spend more time in transit to their final destination — such as products made in commissaries — these Inline products are a perfect fit, she says.

“Our exceptional clarity and quality product lines improve the merchandising, while ensuring the contents will travel safely without leaking or losing freshness,” she says. “Every time a package changes hands, there is the potential for tampering. Tamper-resistant packaging minimizes these possibilities, ensuring foods reach the consumer as safe and fresh as possible.”

Peak performance

In foodservice packaging, performance is the number one attribute that restaurant operators and other foodservice channels — including grocery deli prepared departments — seek, says Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, Falls Church, Virginia.

And under the banner of “performance,” freshness is near the top.

“We have conducted our Foodservice Packaging State of the Industry survey for more than 20 years, and every year, this holds true,” Dempsey says. “Operators are looking for a package that can maintain and deliver the best possible product to their customers.”

Keeping product fresh can be a bigger challenge than ever for many suppliers and their retail partners, given the ever-larger role played by delivery in today’s food world, Dempsey says.

“Delivery is one of the hottest topics around,” she says. “As more folks get into the delivery game and may be using third-party agents by which to deliver their products, the need for tamper-evident packaging is certainly on the rise.”

A half-century of tinkering

Inline’s 50+ years of experience, Korwek says, has made it an expert in recognizing that different products require different oxygen levels for peak freshness. The company’s R&D team has incorporated specially designed vents into certain product lines to optimize air flow and control freshness for products that need it.

For products that need to be airtight, Korwek says, Inline’s award-winning leak resistant seals are the best option.  In addition, Inline is working toward a more sustainable future in its packaging design. 

“In addition to already being 100% recyclable, effective second quarter 2020, we will be adding post-consumer content to every single one of our products,” she says. “Within a couple of months, all Inline plastics will be made with materials diverted from trash.”

Inline expects to divert close to 1 billion bottles from oceans and landfills while enhancing product quality, clarity, consistency, and strength. 

“We are always working on new features and technologies that maximize merchandising, freshness, sustainability and consumer usability,” Korwek says.

Placon’s reFresh line expands to parfait packs

Madison, Wisconsin-based food packaging industry leader Placon’s latest innovation utilizing its reFresh technology is a line of parfait packaging featuring insert options in a single or two-compartment option, along with an inside lid insert option to keep wet or dry ingredients fresh until ready for consumption.

Placon’s Crystal Seal® reFresh® Parfait Line, introduced in January, is tamper-evident, made with 75% or more of Placon’s EcoStar® post-consumer PET material and  100% recyclable.

The line also features increased shelf visibility in combination with stacking or inverting the base to become the lid. Each cup has been engineered to incorporate a tamper-evident feature to ensure product inside stays safe until consumer purchase.

In addition, each cup comes in a flat, dome or pedestal lid option to provide merchandising flexibility depending on the product in each cup.

“With a single and two-compartment insert tray options and a lid insert, you can now keep your wet or dry ingredients separated from the main cup portion until ready for consumption,” according to Placon. “This is perfect for storing your granola in the lid, using the lid insert and then adding to your yogurt parfait when ready to mix. The pedestal base cup has the option to invert, making a great option to put dips or sauces in the bottom portion and highlight the main product on the shelf.”

Each cup fits securely into a car cup holder to support convenience and on-the-go lifestyles. The line is available in 8-ounce or 12-ounce cup sizes with flat lid, dome lid or pedestal lid options.

The new product comes on the heels of Placon’s win at the World Packaging Organization awards, where the company was honored for another product that emphasizes freshness.

Placon’s HomeFresh Entrée product is designed to stack neatly, to avoid tipping over and causing a mess for the end user. It also features a leak resistant lid, vented or non-vented lid options and is microwavable. Simply microwave, wash and reuse.

“At Placon, we find that package innovation occurs we when collaborate with our customers,” says Dan Mohs, Placon’s chairman and CEO. “The best packaging becomes an instrument to connect consumers to the intrinsic value of the products they purchase. The WorldStar awards are a wonderful recognition that we enable the connection between consumers and products they buy.”

Bringing cutting-edge freshness technology to takeout and delivery

Covington, Kentucky-based Novolex has rolled out a new line of packaging designed for takeout and delivery orders.

Blaze food containers — produced by Novolex brand Waddington North America — come in a variety of sizes and styles, with hinged or two-piece options.

“We’ve engineered Blaze hot food containers to ensure customers enjoy their meals at home as much as they do at a restaurant,” says Jennifer Heller, vice president of marketing for WNA. “This is an ideal solution for restaurants and caterers alike.”

The packaging features easy tear-away hinges, which allow for a less-cluttered dining experience, the company says, and the two-piece option offers a common lid that fits the various base sizes. All of the packaging can be recycled where facilities exist.

The line also includes three sizes of Contours Blaze catering trays with a patented EZ-Release tab system. The company says this gives the trays the ability to provide the same food preservation capabilities and delivery experience. 

“With Americans seeking more carryout choices ranging from appetizers to entrees, Blaze offers an innovative way to get meals to customers exactly the way they want them,” Heller says.  

The company also points out the ventilation and stacking capabilities of the packaging, as well as snap-tight, anti-fog lids.