Top Considerations for Frozen Foods Packaging Equipment
As we discussed in our previous blog, “Global Demand for Frozen Foods Heats up,” the global market for frozen food packaging is growing at a rate of about 5% a year. By 2019, the market segment is expected to be worth nearly USD 9 billion—with no indication of slowing down.
To take advantage of growing consumer demand for frozen foods, manufacturers must meet the unique packaging needs of these products, including food safety requirements, durability and leak prevention. As in many other markets, the need for high-quality packaging technology is paramount.
Packaging Technology for Frozen Foods
Vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) systems are popular solutions for frozen produce, since they offer flexibility, high sealing performance, hygienic design and reliability, even in harsh environments. Here, we explore the top considerations that manufacturers must take into account for frozen food packaging:
The frozen food industry faces some of the highest safety standards, especially around sanitation and cleaning procedures. Manufacturers should look for technology that is IP65 protected to ensure total protection from dust ingress and harsh washdown procedures, including low-pressure water jets from any direction. In addition, seek out a system with a NEMA 4x-rated enclosure, which protects the controls systems during total washdowns with disinfectants.
To optimize food safety and quality, manufacturers should look for a hygienically-designed packaging system, which makes cleaning easy. For example, stainless-steel VFFS systems are designed to leverage gravity to transport products, with sloping surfaces that eliminate the build-up of food residue and prevent cross-contamination. These systems also enable easier access to machine parts for simplified cleaning.
Finally, optimum throughput speeds are also important: If products are not transferred quickly and efficiently, they will defrost, which affects food quality and safety.
Film is important in the frozen foods industry, as it increases visual appeal, informs the consumer, can enhance convenience and plays a key role in protecting the product inside. Packaging must be able to withstand the pressures of sealing, freezing, storage, transportation, thawing and in some cases, even cooking.
To meet these challenges, many frozen food producers use Polyethylene (PE) film, which offers high durability, puncture resistance and a long shelf life. Manufacturers should look for production systems that are compatible with their desired film. During the packaging process, too much friction of the sealant side of the film can cause poor film feeding and inconsistent package sizes and can slow down the packages’ progress through delivery chutes, all of which affect the overall quality of the product.
Effective sealing technology helps ensure the quality, appearance and safety of frozen foods by protecting against external materials and gases. Which type of sealing technology is the most suitable depends on the film material used.
For example, constant or direct heat sealing is ideal for thicker films with a high melting point, such as coated Polypropylene (PPE), as constant heat sealers are able to reach higher controlled temperatures than other forms of sealing technology. VFFS systems with high thermal conductivity jaws or impulse heat sealing are good options for the frozen sector.
To maximise production of frozen foods, manufacturers should consider full up and downstream system integration. When all components are integrated and communicate effectively with the others, both operational efficiency and performance will be optimised.
As the frozen food market continues to expand, manufacturers must leverage high-quality production systems in order to provide a safe and attractive product for consumers. By keeping the above considerations in mind, they will be well prepared to identify the technology that offers the flexibility, performance, ease of use and hygienic design they need to be successful.
The tna arctic® 3 helps manufacturers meet the performance and regulatory requirements of the frozen food packaging sector. Manufactured in anti-corrosive, solid stainless steel housing, and with an Ingress Protection rating of IP65, this machine meets the most stringent sanitary regulations. Offering both constant and impulse sealing,the tna arctic 3 also offers enhanced sealing performance and accuracy on a wide range of packaging films, including laminated polypropylene and PE films like linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) to create attention-grabbing packages.
To learn more about frozen food packaging and the key considerations for optimising your packaging process, download our white paper .