12/10/2021 – Packaging / Recyclable / StePac / Top Seal / Fresh Fruit / Salad
StePac launches lean, fully-recyclable top-seal solution
Fresh produce packaging innovator StePac Ltd has expanded its range of top seals with new solutions to extend the shelf-life of fresh fruits and ready-to-eat salads for the retail segment.
StePac Ltd’s newly upgraded portfolio includes lean and fully recyclable easy-peel film structures designed to be sealed onto trays or containers that house produce items such as summer fruits, freshly cut fruits and vegetables, and more, for on-the-go convenience.
The user-friendly, appealing films are engineered with StePac’s flagship Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) condensation control technology – rendered with capabilities to significantly extend the shelf life of fresh produce, and designed to preserve their quality and nutritional value. Its built-in modified atmosphere properties slow respiration inside the packaging, effectively delaying the ageing processes and inhibiting microbial decay.
Leaner, greener, more attractive solution
“We are leading the transition from the use of traditional clamshells for packaging fresh berries to leaner, greener and more attractive top-seal solutions,” noted Gary Ward, Ph.D., Business Development Manager for Israel-headquartered StePac, going on to describe the multiple benefits of the new innovation: “Firstly, it generates as much as 25–30 per cent reduction in plastic use as it is a leaner product compared to the commonly used clamshells. Secondly, it is fully recyclable. And thirdly, it provides shelf-life extension properties, enhancing food quality while reducing waste – all of which fall in line with our sustainability strategy. Last, but not least, it also ensures food safety.”
Rafkor, a firm that packs and markets fruits grown by farmers in the Upper Galilee region of Israel, is already using these solutions for preserving the quality of summer fruits in the domestic market. “Since we started using StePac’s fully-recyclable top-seal solution for cherries, lychee, stone fruits and pears, we have noticed a reduction in waste and quality complaints from our customers,” noted Haviv Aharon, CEO of Rafkor. “This has a lot to do with the shelf-life extension properties of the product. Furthermore, since the product is hermetically sealed, it helps enhance food safety. This is driving sales of our products in the e-commerce sector. We are now looking to expand the use of the film to other fruits.”
Re-sealable for on-the-go convenience
StePac’s elegant re-sealable top-seal solutions are also gaining traction. The innovative top-seal is comprised of a laminated structure composed of two layers, with a pressure-sensitive adhesive in-between. A die-cut in the lower film layer opens up a window that displays the produce packed in the tray and can be cut to the desired dimensions. The adhesive between the two layers is sufficiently strong so that the upper layer of film can be peeled and resealed to the lower layer up to 20 times, making it ideal for multiple servings and can be applied to PET and PP trays, as well as eco-sustainable materials. Each time it is resealed, the Modified Atmosphere (MA) activity regenerates and continues to preserve the quality of the food inside the consumer’s fridge. These solutions are already being used for preserving the quality of summer fruits in the domestic Israeli market.
The re-sealable film also features a tamper-evident seal, providing assurance to customers that the packaging has not been breached or sabotaged in anyway before purchase. Indeed, Mr Ward was keen to highlight the strawberry scare in Australia two years ago – where sewing needles were planted inside strawberries packed in clamshells – as an example of the kind of safety breach that StePac’s latest innovation aims to extinguish.
Sustainable packaging for the retail sector
Over the last few years, StePac has focused its packaging solutions on the cold chain logistics of whole fruits and vegetables encompassing long-haul shipments, bulk storage and consumer-oriented retail packaging. StePac’s activity in the retail packaging sector is growing as the company develops diverse packaging solutions for this sector. In addition, the broad range of top seal solutions that the company offers is enabling them to venture into the minimally processed cold food sector as its novel top-seal can be affixed to containers housing freshly chopped fruits and vegetable salads, while at the same time providing food safety benefits. This gives consumers new opportunities to enjoy and re-enjoy ready-made fresh salads whilst on the go.
“StePac is continuously innovating to bring a broad and versatile range of sustainable packaging solutions that will represent the next best thing in modified atmosphere technology,” added Mr Ward. “Our goal is to merge convenience, quality assurance, safety, aesthetics and ethical values into our portfolio packaging offerings.”
StePac has long been a specialist in functional packaging for fresh produce. Its globally recognised brands include Xtend®, Xgo™, Xflow™ and Xbloom™ modified-atmosphere/modified-humidity packaging solutions. These solutions reduce weight loss, slow respiration and ageing, and inhibit microbial decay, while prolonging storability and shelf life. Such innovations are supported by a wealth of post-harvest expertise for enhanced performance and sustainability.
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