R&FF asks packaging company representatives to discuss the challenges of creating microwavable steam-cook packages for frozen food applications.

Shirley Cox, president, Healthy Fx, Allison, Ont.
The challenge in the market is to have something that is better than everybody else, but cheaper too. Our Healthy Fx self-venting pressure cooking steamer bags were the Cadillac in the industry, but unfortunately people were feeling they were getting the same results - or results they could sell off as the same results - with a simple slit or hole in the bag.

The challenge was to come up with a better bag and at a comparable or cheaper price. We had to step down from our "green" aspirations of having a steamer bag that was FDA-approved to be reusable and fully recyclable.

We went one-step further and came up with a bag that is: private label-rate priced; airtight in the freezer or refrigerator; can be used to extend the shelf life of fresh vegetables; can steam cook in the microwave; and is also fully recyclable without having to cut out the zipper or any other portion of the bag to separate different structures of plastics.

After many months of testing and perfecting, we now have a product line ready to launch that could replace the preservation bags, storage bags and steamer bags all with one triple- purpose bag.

Kristy Ng, assistant manager overseas business, ZipnVent, Hong Kong
Generally, ZipnVent could handle most of the challenges we encountered as we have more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing flexible packaging products for various food and non-food industries. We are also professional in making a diversified range of lamination packaging with venting features, which can be applied in various industries including food packaging.

The technology of combining vacuum packaging with venting features is a unique process and requires skillful knowledge, as the contrast between vacuum packaging and venting features causes tremendous difficulties in releasing and vacuuming vent/gas concurrently.

John McCurdy, business development manager, Alcan Packaging, Chicago
As with any new product, it is ascertaining and developing the materials that accomplish the best performance. This type of challenge is overcome by Alcan Packaging’s expertise and experience, which helped us design the laser scoring features of SteamRight.