Selecting paperboard for packaging:
- Dairy products
- Ready-made meals
- Dessert products
Appetising, moisture resistant packaging
Chilled food covers a wide range of products, such as ready meals, dairy products and desserts. The products may be single items, ready to eat, or prepared recipes incorporating many ingredients. The market for chilled food - convenient, nutritious and tasty meals at home, at work or in various leisure situations - is growing. The increasing use of micro-wave ovens plays an important role in this development. The main advantage of chilled food distribution is in its improved nutritional value and taste achieved by its short shelf life and storage at low temperatures, 0 °C to +3°C.
Chilled food packaging needs to have an appetising and mouth-watering appeal. Above all, it needs to be impeccably hygienic and protective in all respects, keeping products safe from physical hazards as well as deterioration from loss of flavour and aroma. Some packs are designed to provide additional performance where the product is prepared, reheated or consumed in, or from the pack.
Choice of paperboard
An attractive shelf appeal is a most important factor for chilled food. The sale is promoted through packages displaying their contents in appetising, multicolour illustrations, together with printed information about ingredients and use. The visual impact makes the product stand out from competing ones, creating a distinct image of the product - and consumer expectations. The graphical design is achieved by a clear and appetising presentation of the product. Facilities such as tear strips for easy opening or additional performance enhancing the preparation and serving are also promotional features.
Important characteristics are whiteness, smooth ness and surface finish. Good contrast between the board surface and the print is required to achieve good presentation of sharp half-tone illustrations and printed text. The graphical presentation and hygienic appeal call for pure virgin fibres. So does the preservation of flavour and aroma. Additional characteristics are strength and toughness for the functional shape of the pack. Often there is also a need for enhanced barrier coatings against moisture, oil and fat. Heat resistant barrier coatings are required for products which are to be reheated or prepared in their packaging. The effectiveness of coatings and the ability to provide additional performance are often necessary to achieve attractiveness, hygienic appeal and functional performance.
The packages must reach the consumer with a fresh and appetising appeal and their contents in perfect condition. In order to keep the food safe from physical hazards in distribution, storage and handling at the point of sale a strong paper board is required. The condition of the product decides which additional properties are required of the paperboard; product integrity can be assured by enhanced barrier coatings, to prevent absorption of moisture, oil or fat. Due to the very high relative humidity experienced with chilled food, the strength of the package is reduced. Thus it is important to use a paperboard with edge and surface water repellency, which can be further enhanced by barrier coatings.
Important characteristics are compression strength and toughness together with good creasing and folding properties, all ensuring a strong and durable package. A smooth surface provides for ease of handling, good rub and abrasion resistance, thereby preserving the graphical presentation. The preservation of aroma and flavour is provided by the use of pure virgin fibres and by coatings and treatments on one or both sides of the board. Product safety, where the product is packed in contact with, or in close proximity to the paper board, is achieved by the use of pure virgin fibres and validated by meeting internationally accepted standards of safety, e.g. BGVV approval and EU-Directives.
Printing and conversion
To obtain efficiency in printing and conversion a flat, stable and dust free paperboard is required. Good absorption and drying properties, as well as good cutting, creasing and gluing properties are important. Thus a high print quality is ensured, whilst process stoppages and material waste are minimised.
Many chilled food products are packed in direct contact with the inside of the carton. Other products are first packed in plastic containers or aluminium trays and then in secondary paperboard packaging, such as a sleeve or carton. Properties enhancing the packaging operation are strength and toughness, together with fold in and interlocking capability and hot melt gluing properties.