LINPAC Packaging worked in partnership with Italy-based machine manufacturer G. Mondini S.p.A. and film manufacturer Bemis Co., Inc., Neenah, Wis., to create a pack that combines the extended shelf life benefits of vacuum skin film technologies with the presentation and protection benefits of rigid pre-formed trays for Booths Supermarkets, which has 29 stores located throughout the north of England.
Booths’ in-house protein packer, Booths Fresh Foods, has been a LINPAC customer for more than five years, previously taking delivery of rPET PE trays and LINtop lidding film.
After admiring VSP solutions at other retailers, Booths moved from modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) for some of their meat products to VSP.
LINPAC Packaging’s continual innovation program enabled Booths to develop a competitive alternative to the standard sheet skin packs traditionally used in vacuum skin packing. To suit the various cuts of meat, LINPAC developed three application styles for use with rPET, PP and EPS trays—normal vacuum skin pack (below the flange protrusion); protruding vacuum skin pack (slightly above the flange protrusion); and super-protruding vacuum skin pack (high protrusion above the flange).
“Our innovative vacuum skin pack rigid solutions provide enhanced consumer appeal, shelf-space efficiency and maximum protection to products during transit and in store,” says Chris Elliott, technical sales manager at LINPAC Packaging. “The pre-formed tray gives a higher quality look and feel to packs, and this, combined with the extended shelf life provided by these packs, means our customers are getting the very best from their packaging.”
The excellent team work from LINPAC, Mondini and Bemis, which included site visits, test designs, retailer workshops and trials ensured the final product was environmentally-beneficial, well presented and strong enough to endure the rigors of skin packing. Meanwhile, Mondini refined and retro-fitted Booths’ machine with skin pack tooling to ensure a smooth production process. This refined retro-fit has now become the standard on all subsequent tools.
The newly designed peelable packs have been in stores for four months, increasing meat sales by 80% on some premium products and decreasing food waste due to the extended shelf life qualities.
“The initial attraction to VSP was the on-shelf appeal, for example, the amount of unsightly juices on show within the pack is greatly reduced because all free surface space is sealed, and this is enhanced further by the rigid tray, which gives a premium quality appearance to the pack. The increase in sales we have seen since the packs were introduced in store shows our customers agree,” says Nigel Cokell, fresh meat and manufacturing manager for Booths. “A second benefit to us has been the shelf life improvement; production planning has become more efficient and easier, meaning we have more product and less ‘out of stock’ labels on our shelves, and less food is being wasted because it has gone out of date.”