Although consumers have always wanted their packaging to be robust, leak-free and tamper-proof, the global pandemic has added a new factor to the equation. Today’s packaging also needs to be hygienic to open. Selig’s Service Director, Darren Dodd, discusses the challenges this poses and how hygienic opening can be achieved on food, drink and pharmaceutical products.
The global pandemic has seen multiple market disruptions and manufacturers struggling to keep up with the many changes. According to analysts McKinsey and Company, the biggest changes have been seen in consumer channels. These have included new or heightened hygiene and consumer-safety concerns, highly volatile raw-materials prices and the lifting of single-use packaging bans to name but a few. These megatrends are reshaping the packaging industry.
Balancing sustainability, food safety, e-commerce and hygiene
Although consumers continue to want companies to move towards the provision of more sustainable packaging to minimise waste and maximise resources, they are now more conscious than ever before of the need for food safety and hygiene. With people wiping down supermarket packaging with disinfectant wipes post-purchasing, there has never before been such a focus on the transference of germs in the public mindset.
In addition, sheltering households and national and localised lockdowns have fuelled the growth of grocery e-commerce. Previous to the pandemic, only 3-4% of grocery spend in the US was online, this has since surged to 10-15%. The picture is similar in the UK, with the online grocery market now forecast to grow 25.5% in 2020 – significantly ahead of the 8.5% previously anticipated.
With this in mind, packaging providers are needing to rethink existing on-shelf and e-commerce products and look at them from the point of view of whether they can deliver functionally and be ‘hygiene-assured’ as well. To achieve this, some producers have opted for single-use wrapped items to promote both food safety and hygiene, others have gone to the lengths of putting their products in controlled atmosphere packaging. The trend towards hygiene was even evident before the pandemic, with Coca Cola announcing late last year the introduction of a paperboard ‘topper’ for multipack cans in Europe by the end of 2021, to ensure the tops of the cans were kept clean.
New focus on hygienic-to-open packaging
This increased sensitivity towards germs has led to consumers wanting ways to open their food, drink and medication as hygienically as possible. However, they also still want the products they are purchasing to demonstrate freshness, provenance, tamper-evidence and be easy to open. Due to this sea-change in consumer requirements, more manufacturers are looking for ways to make their existing packaging more hygienic to open, without the added expense of costly pack redesigns. Selig has been working with producers to help them achieve this. The company has been using one of its most popular closure products – Lift ‘n’ Peel™ on food and drink products and has also introduced a pioneering new packaging concept for producers looking to seal vitamins, nutraceuticals and other food supplements.
Tried and tested hygienic opening with Selig’s Lift ‘n’ Peel
Already well known in the food and drink sector in dairy, juice and condiment applications, Selig’s Lift ‘n’ Peel™, can be applied using a process known as induction heat sealing or induction cap sealing. It creates a rugged hermetic seal that can be peeled away smoothly, without any need for fingers or implements to touch the opening of the packaging, avoiding the transference of any germs to the product. The combination of a flexible hermetic seal and an easy to open tab approach results in a seal that is both strong and hygienic to use. Lift ‘n’ Peel can also be used on plastic or glass containers, offering either a clean peel or tamper evident seal, dependent on the type of liner chosen.
A new concept for hygienic opening of pharmaceutical packaging
Selig has also been working on a pioneering packaging concept for vitamin, nutraceutical and food supplement packaging that will offer enormous benefits, especially to the elderly or those with dexterity issues, as well as to the general population. The concept – called Top Tab™ 2 TamperSeal – is a liner for containers that hold pharmaceuticals. It has a two-piece induction foil liner with a built-in half-moon tab, manufactured from high quality raw materials, under conditions which assure their safety for use in many packaging applications. A choice of backing liners is available that separate during the induction process, ensuring the pack can be released and still provide protection from leaking, whilst maintaining product freshness. The liners can also be printed with a customer specific logo or design to provide brand differentiation.
This new product development by Selig enables the packaging to have a tamper evident, hermetic seal, yet also be easy and hygienic to open. This is because the two piece liner doesn’t require tools or the need to puncture the tamper-evident seal, thus avoiding the potential introduction of microbes into the packaging. It also comes with a Lift ‘n’ Peel™ TamperSeal tab that ensures the seal is quick and easy to open and remove even when wearing protective gloves.
As the ramifications of a global pandemic continue to unfold, innovations such as these small, yet significant seals can help food and drink producers and pharma manufacturers deliver the ultimate in product and patient protection in these uncertain times.
1 Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/paper-forest-products-and-packaging/our-insights/shaping-the-next-normal-of-packaging-beyond-covid-19
2 Source: research by consulting firm Bain & Company
3 Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/05/uk-online-grocery-sales-lockdown-internet-coronavirus
4 Source: https://www.aiccbox.org/news/480065/Coca-Cola-Announces-Sustainable-Paperboard-Topper-for-Multi-Pack-Cans.htm
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Selig is a leading worldwide manufacturer of tamper evident cap and closure lining materials for use across a broad range of applications; such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, cosmetics and healthcare. Selig’s comprehensive range of both one- and two-piece structures means that they can manage even the most challenging applications with one of their customised aluminium foil/heat seal combination products. In addition, Selig offers a range of easy open products, which offer greatest convenience and product freshness to the consumer as well as product differentiation to the brand owner.