Professional packages are the hidden stars behind the scenes of worldwide trade and supply chain, much like the technical team behind a movie. People are rarely aware of them, but they make possible the long and perilous journey of sensitive products across oceans and continents. In the food industry, things are even more complicated than in other industries: packaging materials must comply with various strict standards of safety starting with the raw materials they are made of and ending with the cleaning and sanitizing processes.
What We Started With: A Complex Chain of Packages
Not too far ago, the food reaching people’s tables was the witness of a long and complex journey, with many stops along the way, changing packages and storage locations. Without exaggeration, one single product could go through up to 10 packages from its place of origin to the customer’s shopping cart.
The reason for this long and burdensome journey was the lack of reliable professional packages. Wood and cardboard were the most frequently used packaging materials for the food industry. These products are neither hygienic, nor sturdy and reliable for long term use. The introduction of plastic packaging, made of virgin polypropylene approved for food contact changed all this.
Let us take a tour of the main food groups and the journey they make from point of origin to the consumers’ fridge or pantry.
Fresh or frozen fish is a very sensitive type of food, together with seafood. This particular type of food has a very short term of validity and serious consequences on people’s health if consumed spoiled. The top challenges for packing and shipping this product are:
- Making sure it is not crushed or marked, as it is a very tender food;
- Maintaining optimal hygiene throughout the journey;
- Maintaining a low temperature to preserve its freshness.
Specialized fish containers have a special design which includes a compartment for packing ice, several points of draining and spillways and are sturdy enough to make the journey from the fishing ships to the fish store without needing any kind of replacement.
Fruit and Vegetables
An apple a day keeps the doctor away and a healthy, well balanced diet keeps us fit and protected from premature aging and various illnesses. But to enjoy the fresh and wholesome taste of fruit and vegetables, farms need to package and ship their produce quickly, in reliable containers adapted to various restrictions:
- Smooth inner walls to protect the fruit and vegetables from marking;
- Adequate ventilation to ensure freshness throughout the journey;
- Easy handling by people and automated machines to shorten the handling period.
Rigid pallet containers are the first category of professional packages used for agricultural products, right on site where they are harvested. The large containers with smooth inner walls help large farms collect their produce quickly and send them to a pooling station.
Here, the fresh produce is distributed in stackable crates with perforations, which will be loaded in trucks and delivered directly to the store. The design of these plastic crates is ideal for the transportation and display of fresh fruit and vegetables, making them an ideal replacement for other in-store display packages.
Meat and Dairy Products
These two categories of food products are extremely sensitive, because they are very likely to become contaminated from the packaging materials they touch. They also may leak various organic liquids, which can become in their turn a source of contamination for porous packaging materials (such as wood or cardboard).
Special plastic containers for meat and dairy are made from strictly regulated raw materials, approved for food contact, and have a special design, with smooth surfaces and no unnecessary corners or angles where dirt may accumulate.
From stackable EURO containers to cleanroom pallets, these professional packages are designed and manufactured with hygiene as the most important characteristic in mind and are meant to be the go-to product from the moment the fresh product is obtained in dairy farms or slaughter houses to the moment they are delivered to the refrigerating displays in supermarkets.
Bread, deli pastries and other similar products are among the best selling food products worldwide. The number one quality of this type of products is freshness. They are tender, delicate products which need to be handled with care, delivered and displayed in special packages which maintain their integrity and freshness.
Perforated crates for bread and bakery products are the one-in-all professional packages needed for storing and transporting these fresh products from the mouth of the oven to the specialized shelf for pastries in stores.