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April 2019- Snack Packaging

  • Packaging Technology and Research
pg 134 04.19
by Claire Koelsch Sand and Ziynet Boz
Snack Packaging
One-half of eating occasions
involve snacks ins tead of full
meals. Snack-size meals appeal
to consumers who want to experi-
ment with a different flavor or texture
profile while not committing to a full-
size meal. Packaging snacks in
multicomponent mini-meals provides
a balanced nutrient profile in lower
calorie counts. Snack-food packag-
ing also serves low-income
populations because of their smaller,
more affordable size.
Snack Packaging Enables
The small scale of snack-size pack-
aging allows consumers to
experiment with new flavors and
textures associated with novel
cuisines. Flavor and odor barriers in
packaging maintain the unique
organoleptic features and product
texture. For example, Oishi prawn
crackers maintain their shrimp flavor
via a multilayer flexible pouch that
masks product from light to limit lipid
oxidation, which would alter the fla-
vor profile. Likewise, maintaining the
light green-paprika flavor of Fashion
Food crackers requires a packaging
barrier. Biena Baked Chickpea Puffs
also have a unique flavor that
demands a high flavor barrier. The
consumer demand for unique flavors
creates an opportunity for the addi-
tion of clean label ingredients that
are also inherently antimicrobial on
the food-contact layer of packaging.
Antimicrobials embedded in snack-
size packaging for foods with a water
activit y above 0.60 stalls the growth
of yeasts and molds. Ingredients that
are natural antimicrobials include
cinnamon, cumin, garlic, lemongrass,
and rosemary. More efficient release
of delicate flavors often can be
achieved when antimicrobial ingredi-
ents are embedded within the
packaging itself. Further, integrating
different packages with antimicrobial
flavors increases production.
Specifically, production changeovers
associated with the conversion from
one product formula to another are
reduced when the product is the
same but the packaging varies.
Moreover, this eliminates the need
for resorting and repacking of pack-
ages to of fer product variety in
display cases at retail. This value
chain solu tion has cr eated uni que oppor-
Packaging design and materials
also alleviate the unique problems of
snacking while engaging in other
activities. For example, the reusable
and machine-washable Doritos towel
bag appeals to the gaming commu-
nity. Additionally, the Amcor PushPop
has a wide bowl-like opening that
facilitates ease of opening, eating,
and resealing. The product is gravity-
fed using a vertical form-fill-seal
machine and sealed in polyethylene,
polypropylene, and polyethylene
terephthalate pouches.
Snack Packaging Facilitates Combos
A well-balanced and nutritious small
meal or snack is a priority for many.
Ready-to-eat product combinations
in one package accommodates
snacks in the form of mini-meals. F or
example, Babybel offers a cheese
and crackers package, and Hormel
Natural Choice snacks provide meat,
cheese, and/or nut snack combina-
tions. These and other similar
products are packaged in multilayer
high-barrier or polyethylene tere-
phthalate thermoform trays with
heat-sealed lidstock.
Packaging snacks in pouches is
popular for food manufacturing start-
ups because film and horizontal
form-fill-seal equipment represents a
low cost of entry. For example, non-
stock thermoform molds typically
cost $ 3,00 0 to $5,00 0, and rotary
fillers with a sealing platen specific
to the package dimensions range
from a low of $60,000 to about
$150,0 00. Product creativity for
entrepreneurs manufacturing snack
foods is more expansive since multi-
ple formulas can be tested with
consumers. Pouches containing
mini-meal mixes also of fer less pack-
aging and more portability for
The Amcor PushPop creates a
wide bo wl-like openi ng that
facilitates easy unsealing,
snack sharing, and
resealing. Photo courtesy of
04.19 pg
consumers. For example, Kraft
Stacked Cheese and Meat is within a
minimalistic pouch produced on a
horizontal form-fill-seal production
line. Frozen food products can also
be mini-meals in snack-size pack-
ages. The rate of many degradative
reactions declines in freezers, so
fewer preservatives and less pack-
aging are necessary; this appeals to
consumers who desire less preser-
vatives and packaging. The high cost
and environmental impact of frozen
storage and distribution are unseen
trade-of fs for less packaging and
less preservatives. For example,
José Olé Nacho Bites and José O
Taqui tos are minimally packaged in
resealable folding cartons, and Brazi
Bites snacks are packaged in multi-
layer resealable pouches for ease of
dispensing and portioning. An array
of frozen snacks packaged in low-
barrier polyethylene-based pouches
include Tai Pei Pork Potstickers,
Tyson Anytizers, and Tot ino’s Pizza
Rolls. Udi’s snackable muf fins main-
tain their shape because they are
packed in a black base and clear top
made of polyethylene terephthalate.
Addressing sus tainable frozen snack
packaging more clearly are Amy’s
Spinach Feta Pocket Sandwiches,
which come in a clear pouch within a
100% recyclable folding carton.
Refrigerated snacks are pack-
aged for convenience as well.
Innovations in yogurt packaging have
created new snacking opportunities
for yogurt. For example, single-serve
drinkable ayran yogurts are pack-
aged in polypropylene and
polyethylene thermoformed cups
with laminated foil lidding. A large
resealable opening on Tetra Pak mul-
tilayer cartons allows for filling and
dispensing of large fruit particles into
the ambient yogurt and is designed
for consumption on the go. Similarly,
Tet ra P ak’s Tetra Top MiniV carton
bottle, which has separable paper
and plastic elements for ease of
recycling, is used to package
Skånemejerier drinkable yogurt.
Chobani ‘s nondairy drinkable prod-
uct is showcased in sage green
high-densit y polyethylene recyclable
Snack Packaging Promotes Affordability
Snack-size food packaging provides
affordable nutrition to low-income
populations and enables flexible
disaster relief. Snack-size packaging
provides food at lower prices than
foods in larger packaging. For con-
sumers operating with a limited
income, this is critical in their ef forts
to provide balanced meals each day.
And while snack-size packages make
food more affordable, snacks that are
shelf stable also offer an economical
and logistical benefit. Shelf-stable
snacks eliminate energy consump-
tion and costs associated with
refrigerated distribution. On the con-
sumer side, it also extends product
usability and reduces food waste
associated with food spoilage.
Extending product shelf life without
refrigeration often demands active
packaging such as modified atmo-
sphere packaging, oxygen
scavengers, or antimicrobial packag-
ing. For example, Kirkland Organic
Roasted Seaweed is packaged in a
polystyrene tray within a foil-lami-
nated pouch and contains an oxygen
scavenger that extends the product’s
shelf life by six to nine months. Jack
Links Original Protein On-the-Go
snacks are in a high-barrier pouch.
Applesauce aseptically packaged in
single-serve snack-size multilayer
cups requires a high barrier to main-
tain its ambient shelf life.
Snack-size food products can be
used as complimentary meals for
people who have nutrient deficien-
cies due to illness, who are dealing
with wound recovery, or who are
immunocompromised. This is in
The Tet raTop 330 c arton bottle with separa ble consum er paper an d plastic el ements for e ase of recycli ng is
used to co ntain Skån emejerie r drinkab le yogurt . Photo co urtes y of Tetr a Pak
pg 136 04.19
Snack Packaging continued...
contrast to oversupplying or under-sup-
plying nutrients to populations in need.
Delivering food in response to natural or
manmade disasters can be accomplished
with snack packaging. Food aid often
consists of foods with which people in
need are not familiar. Snack-size packag-
ing allows for a variety of flavors and
textures to be delivered and means that
all calories need not be consumed from
one type of food.
Snack Packaging for New Channels
Snack-size packaging is making food
accessible to people through e-com-
merce and vending machines. For
example, Unilever’s Graze offers person-
alized snacks, and the tray packaging is
optimized for delivery to consumers. The
growth of Graze and similar products,
such as NatureBox, has been attributed
to the long distances between certain
neighborhoods and natural-food stores
like Whole Foods Market. Packaging for
snacks in vending machines is specific to
the machine. Snacks appealing to various
consumer types (e.g., health conscious
consumers) are increasingly combined
within single vending machines, thereby
offering variety. For example, Farmer’s
Fridge vending snacks, salads, and sand-
wiches are packaged in returnable and
reusable glass jars. Byte Foods provides
packages with radio frequency identifi-
cation tags that are scanned before and
after an employee opens the company’s
vending machines, thereby tracking what
is taken and charging employees
Companies that seamlessly track
sales and charge consumers by measur-
ing the weight lost in a vending machine
include MissFresh Bianligou and
(Alibaba’s food delivery unit). These
tracking systems do not restrict the size
of packaging within the machine as with
standard vending machines. The conven-
tional direct store delivery sys tem used
for many snacks is an oppor tunity to opti-
mize consumer-facing packaging. Design
options that employ this model with more
sustainable packaging include the use of
returnable high-barrier outer packaging
that is removed in stores. FT
Clair e Koelsc h Sand, Ph D, Contr ibut ing Edito r
• IFT Fell ow, Pre sident , Packag ing Techn ology a nd
Research, LLC
• Adjun ct prof essor, Mi chiga n State Uni versi ty
Ziynet Boz, PhD, is a rese arch con sultant w ith Packag ing
Technology and Research LLC
The small scale of snack-size packaging allows consumers
to experiment with new avors and textures.
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