Heat-processable barrier plastics find new niches in soup

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Soup shelf-life could be 18 months
Soup shelf-life could be 18 months

Related tags: Marketing, Dietary supplement

The first applications of RPC's new Apollo barrier polypropylene (PP) alternative to the metal can are likely to be in long-life soups, in liquid nutraceuticals and - in a different combination of barrier and structure - powdered nutraceuticals, the firm has said.

The 380ml container combines a tried and tested ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) oxygen barrier, sandwiched between PP layers, with the BAP peelable foil membrane and reclosable overcap.

"If you take a product in a can, why would you put it into plastics?"​ asked sales and marketing manager at RPC Corby, Vince Dean. "It costs more, it offers a shorter shelf-life and is slower to process."​ While Apollo can be retorted on a rotational system, it will not run on the type of continuous belt retort typically used in high-volume canning, he explained.

As high as 30%

Compared with the equivalent in metal, the container itself might cost 10% more, according to RPC, if produced in volumes of between 4M and 20M, which the company sees as the ideal range. Simpler peelable and retortable closure systems are available, but with the BAP system (supplied by Aptar), the total on-cost might be as high as 30%, said Dean.

"Unless you've got a strong brand, you're not going to take that on-cost on the packaging,"​ he said. But he pointed out that as with the alternative baked beans packaging that was produced for Heinz the aim was typically to broaden the appeal of an already successful brand.

18 months

Shelf-life for soups could be up to 18 months, said Dean, depending on the product, with the use of an oxygen scavenger to supplement the EVOH barrier during the window of 'retort shock' after heat processing.

Given the testing that still needs to be done, it could be 18 months before the soup packaged in Apollo reaches the shelves, he said, but the unnamed nutraceutical product will appear sooner.

For space-efficiency reasons, a square section was originally considered, RPC explained, but was abandoned in favour of a round profile, ribbed for greater strength, and with a visibility strip set into a full-body shrink sleeve.

Related topics: Packaging equipment

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