Transparency Market Research predicts the global frozen food industry will reach $293.75 billion by 2019—an increase of over $69 billion since 2012. As frozen PMMI Julie Ackermanfood manufacturers move to be part of this increase, three trends lead the discussion—food safety, product traceability and sustainability.

This year has seen important advances in technologies that advance each of these areas, and PACK EXPO International 2014, Nov. 2-5 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, will offer manufacturers the opportunity to efficiently and effectively find the resources they need to reach their food safety, traceability and sustainability goals.

Safety first
Food safety is of principle importance, but despite industry’s best efforts, more than 13 million pounds of beef, pork, poultry and mixed-meat products—some of them frozen meals—were recalled in 2013, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service. Recalls can be pricey propositions—costly to implement and damaging to reputations.

That’s why equipment suppliers are offering new technologies to help manufacturers prevent contamination and meet today’s safety demands.

For instance, Bimba Manufacturing, University Park, Ill., (Booth #S-1554) will exhibit its new stainless-steel Flat-1 actuators. Designed specifically for food and beverage packaging, these actuators are highly resistant to corrosive foams and spray used during washdown activities. The components comply with current USDA and 3-A requirements, which state that non-product contact areas must be corrosion resistant. The unitized body design of the actuators eliminates the need for tie rods, which can trap food product and create areas for bacterial growth.

Additionally, Bosch Packaging Technology, New Richmond, Va., (Booth #S-3514) will showcase ultrasonic sealing technology that can be applied to all Bosch vertical baggers. By using high-frequency vibrations, product residues are removed from the sealing area, ensuring package integrity. The technology is ideal for products like frozen foods, whose quality would be affected by contamination of sealing seams and leakage.

Product traceability
Cold food manufacturers know the importance of tracking and monitoring a product every step of the way. Sensitivity to warmer temperatures means manufacturers must take greater care in transporting their products through the supply chain. Tracking technologies can help ensure food safety by monitoring production and expiration dates throughout the supply chain, making the process for identifying and solving problems more efficient.

One of the most popular and simple solutions utilized by traceability systems is the barcode. Brand owners looking to ramp up their barcode technologies can find the AllMark 400 print controllers from ImTech, Inc., Corvallis, Ore., (Booth #E-6747). The AllMark 400 makes processing and printing variable data easy and features an easy-to-use touchscreen interface for simple message creation. The AllMark prints all popular barcode symbol markups, including linear and 2-D. The controllers can also network with other devices, such as scales and barcode scanners, allowing for easy processing and printing of variable data. 

Consumer demand for sustainable products is driving change throughout refrigerated and frozen food supply chains. Sustainability efforts encompass a broad set of solutions, including packaging materials, the type of equipment and energy use. Unique cube-shaped, stackable, sustainable packaging technologies such as FlexiPAIL from Conservacube, Kent, Ohio, (Booth #N-5283) are said to use less material than rigid packaging alternatives, enhancing sustainability efforts and reducing material costs for manufacturers.

Equipment manufacturers such as Nordson Corp., Westlake, Ohio, (Booth # S-1930) offer equipment with reduced energy consumption and downtime. Nordson will introduce its new ProBlue Liberty to the North American market. The new, integrated tankless melter and fill system is designed to improve productivity while delivering adhesive, energy and maintenance savings across multiple lines. A proprietary sensor monitors molten adhesive levels in the hopper and alerts the system when adhesive is needed. By melting only what is needed and when it is needed, the ProBlue Liberty melter virtually eliminates char buildup.

Innovation and education on the show floor
Refrigerated and frozen food brand owners looking for the latest innovations will find them on display at North America’s largest and most comprehensive processing and packaging tradeshow, PACK EXPO International 2014, which is co-located with Pharma EXPO. This event, co-produced by PACK EXPO owner and organizer PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, Reston, Va., and The Institute for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Tampa, Fla., will serve as a hub for the solutions manufacturers’ needs, offering unique opportunities for new ideas that transcend industries. Regardless of the market segments, plenty of new technologies and educational opportunities will be on display to help companies reach their business goals:

·         The Brand Zone (Upper North Hall) will help brand owners break the mold with innovative containers and materials to interrupt the retail landscape, broaden appeal, enhance shelf presence and extend shelf life. The 11th Annual Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., will display an array of award-winning package designs from all over the world.

·         The Processing Zone (Upper Lakeside) is a hub for the latest in processing technology. And, because PACK EXPO is about encountering innovation across the entire supply chain, attendees will find suppliers who can help develop total systems solutions throughout the show.

·         The Reusable Packaging Pavilion (Upper Lakeside) will offer ways to explore methods of reducing waste, slashing shipping costs, protecting goods and increasing productivity and the bottom line. Whether you are considering investing in reusable packaging or want more out of the assets you already own, this pavilion is an excellent place to start. 

Furthermore, the more than 140 free educational opportunities at PACK EXPO International include seminars on breakthrough technologies and techniques with applications in a wide variety of industries at PACK EXPO’s Innovation Stage (Grand Concourse). The Food Safety Summit Resource Center (Booth # S-2962), organized and owned by Food Safety Summit, a BNP Media brand, and co-sponsored by GE Intelligent Platforms, Charlottesville, Va., will present subject matter experts on critical food safety matters like the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). At the Center for Trends & Technology (CTT) (Booth # S-3907), attendees can learn about the absolute latest technologies and emerging trends on topics such as machine safety, the Internet of Things, serialization and line optimization.

Go to to register for PACK EXPO International 2014. And, please stop by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ booth, #6165, to pick up extra copies of the September 2014 issue, renew your free subscription and learn more about upcoming advertising and interview opportunities.