A packaging industry group is recognizing the technology in new Smart Ones Grilled Flatbreads from H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, and its Heinz North America business.

Graphic Packaging International, Inc. (GPI), Marietta, Ga., said its Focus™ inset susceptor technology was recognized by the Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL). Specifically, the Heinz product with Focus susceptor earned a Technical Award in the "Food Packaging Category" of AIMCAL's annual industry competition. Officials presented the award earlier this spring during AIMCAL's management meeting in La Jolla, California.

GPI says its researchers developed the dual-susceptor package with Heinz North America. The four-item Smart Ones Grilled Flatbreads line then debuted in June 2009. Varieties include Savory Steak and Ranch, Southwestern Style Chicken Fiesta, Chicken Bruschetta and Chicken Marinara with Mozzarella Cheese. 

"These healthy flatbread sandwiches wrap together rich strips of meat, fire-roasted vegetables, and tasty sauce in a flatbread dough that features real grill marks and a bakery-fresh taste," explains Bob Babich, GPI's manager of market development.

"However, some people like their flatbread crispier and some like it softer – so we let them cook it just right, simply based on how they position the product and the package in the microwave." 

For a crisper taste, consumers place the food on a susceptor plate and heat on top of the box using two layers of susceptor with the product uncovered. For a softer taste, consumers leave the food on the susceptor plate inside the box using a single layer of patterned susceptor with the product covered. 

Babich says the susceptor plate is a special aluminum pattern that is laminated into paperboard so it can absorb microwaves and convert them into heat.  At lower temperatures, the food browns; at higher temperatures, the food broils. 

"The word 'revolutionary' truly applies to this dual-susceptor package which is a first-of-its-kind and literally takes susceptor technology to a new level of innovation," he says. 

GPI says the package also simplifies inventory management by eliminating the need to stock different cartons for soft and crispy products.

"Susceptor technology is transforming the food industry because it crisps, browns, eliminates hot and cold spots, and creates textures similar to conventional cooking," says Babich.  "It's creating a variety of exciting new packaging and marketing options for convenience foods such as these flatbread sandwiches, as well as pizzas, burritos, pies, and other hand-held snack foods."

He adds, "As we make susceptor technology even more sophisticated – combining it with improvements in paperboard design, forming, and laminating – we can expect to even more dramatically re-think and re-shape all types of food packaging, whether it's boxes, cartons, trays, or sleeves."