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Plastic Packaging for the Food and Beverage Industry

Plastics have been a part of the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry since their invention. The invention of various new plastic resins that have been considered safe for food-grade packaging makes it a valuable resource for the sector. Plastic packaging techniques have revolutionized the food market. 

The design flexibility, cost-effectiveness, lightweight, faster manufacturing, and longer shelf life make plastics and plastic packaging valuable within the sector. 

Food product packaging has witnessed a significant transformation in terms of applications, and technology. 

The article talks about some common examples of plastic packaging used in the F&B and the production techniques used by manufacturers. 

Food and Beverages Industry- Packaging Challenges

Plastics packaging has been a very visual part of the food industry. The market is very competitive and the need to continually come out with high-quality products that meet the stringent legal requirements of the industry is high. 

There are, however, various unique challenges that molders and industrial packaging manufacturers face. Getting superior shelf life, food-friendly prints, and labelings, lightweight, etc are some key requirements. 

Whether it is packaging dairy products, creating caps and closures, kitchenware containers, lids or flexible plastic packaging for candies, chocolate, the use of superior technology is a part of the production process.

The use of plastic injection molding or high-end solutions like co-injection molding has now become an integral part of the plastic packaging and the F&B industry. Additionally, flexible packaging technologies used to produce Polyolefin, PET Shrink label, BOPP heat sealable films and laminate bags are widely needed for various applications within the sector. 

Plastic Packaging Examples

The availability of a wide range of plastic resins, each with their unique properties, makes it possible to find their applications in various industrial processes. 

Right from shelf stable bottles, lids, food containers to packaging for frozen food and air tight films and wraps, plastics play a crucial role in delivering safe food from source to the table. 

The range of machinery used by plastic packaging manufacturers is equally large and amazing. From “Blister skin and vacuum packaging machines” to capping, sealing, lidding, case tray forming,  cleaning, palletizing, labeling, and wrapping machines, the list is big and growing. 

Various examples of plastic packaging for the F&B industry include:

  • Bottles, trays, etc.
  • Caps, lids, seals, etc. 
  • Disposable cutlery, straws, etc. 
  • Laminate films to wrap fruits, vegetables, butter, etc. 
  • Tea and coffee box wrappings
  • Laminate wrapping on cutlery and plastic kitchenware
  • Plastic vacuum bags for milk powder, flour, vegetable oil, wafers, sugar, rice, bread, etc. 

Production Techniques

The use of plastics for packaging in the F&B industry is widespread. The section above provides examples of the use of plastic packaging technologies in our kitchen. 

Plastic packaging can broadly be classified into the following:

1. Hard plastic packaging products– 

These include bottles, trays, food containers, cutlery, lids, caps, etc. These types of products involve complex geometries and intricate labeling designs. The use of advanced molding technologies like plastic injection molding, co-molding, plastic part decoration techniques, etc has revolutionized the sector. 

2. Flexible packaging and films– 

These packaging techniques are used to produce various products that find a wide range of applications in the food industry. These include:

  • Polyolefin or POF films– These extremely durable and versatile wrap films have replaced the use of PVC in the food sector. Being FDA approved, they are considered safe and hygienic for use in the F&B industry. Their durability, versatility, low production cost, high tensile strength, ability to shrink and recyclability makes them an excellent choice for food packaging. 
  • PET Shrink Labels- These are used for outer wrapping and labeling of cans, bottles, glassware, etc. The flexibility of this plastic packaging material/film makes it effective to package all types of shapes and sizes. Scuff resistance, heat resistance, high gloss percentage, great shrinkage, and recyclability makes them a valuable choice for plastic packaging. 
  • BOPP heat sealable films- These plastic films are used in packaging, printing and laminating food products and kitchenware items. The heat sealable properties make it a valuable technique. Various applications include candy and chocolate wrappings, straws, laminate covering on plastic spoons and forks, tea and coffee boxes, etc 
  • Laminate bags- These are one of the most used products within the F&B industry. 

 

Their widespread applications include vacuum bags for frozen foods; bags for powdered products like milk powder and flour;  bags for liquid products like vegetable oil; central seal bags for noodles, rice, sugar, potato chips, and various similar products;  3-side seal bags for ready to eat food, bread, confectionery, etc. 

Final words:

Food packaging is one of the most important aspects of the present-day food industry. Almost all types of food items consumed are sold in packaged forms. Good packaging is important to maintain the desired shelf life of food products. 

The use of multiple food-safe plastic resins and a wide range of ultra-modern technologies make it possible to create food packaging that adheres to the legal norms. 

 

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