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The Importance of Choosing the Right Packaging Barrier

July 26, 2017

By Ryan F Talag, Marketing and New Business Associate from Chantler Packages

You’ve spent countless hours developing your new food product. From research and experimentation all the way to the final touches and taste tests, your passion has pushed you through it all. Then comes packaging. Perhaps you already have an idea of how the product will be packed. If it will be packaged in a bag, you should note that film comes in a variety of materials and thicknesses. Choosing the right thickness and barrier is important, especially when dealing with food. Here are some things to consider:

Freshness

A thicker barrier or laminated material can help a food product last longer. Certain film blends have lower oxygen transmission rates (OTR) than others.

A sleeve of crackers or a bag of cereal might need longer shelf life as they can be on retail shelves for weeks at a time. Therefore, they are packed in thicker plastic material. Moreover, the product remains in the home for several days. For example, when a bag of cereal is opened, it can take days or weeks before the product is completely finished. A thick bag (inside the box) will help keep the product dry.

Breads don’t need a thick barrier when they are bagged and sold fresh. Therefore, you’ll find loaves of bread, pita bread, and other buns paced in thinner gauged material like CPP.




Odour


Some ingredients or food products that require barrier protection are cinnamon, spices, teal leaves, acidic items, dry (powdered) food, liquids, processed food, and meat . If the plastic is too thin, this means the oxygen barrier is not sufficient. Therefore, the shelf life of the food could be shorter.

For example: if your product is ground up herb and garlic crackers and it is placed in a thin bag, you would be able to smell the product through the plastic. This means air is getting through (in and out) causing the product to expire quicker than if packed in a thick bag.




Texture

Depending on the food, film barrier can play a big role in food texture. Crackers and cereals are often packaged to be kept. This is why a thick bag is used as packaging (along with a box). Some types of cookies or ground coffee will use a metalized film to maintain a moisture balance; this way the cookies stay soft and chewy.



Other packaging

Even non-retail or non-CPG items need consideration for plastic thickness. For example, if you’re packing loaves of bread in corrugated boxes, you would require a carton liner. The box would bear the weight but what if the carton liner is lifted with all the product inside? Can the carton liner bear the weight or is there a chance that it will tear causing all the bread to fall to the ground?



Clarity Sometimes, having a thicker barrier affects the transparency. If you want to visually show off your product (i.e. for effective retail display), you need to choose the right thickness or material that won’t cause too much haziness.

For example: CPP has a haze level of 2 or 3 while polyethylene has a level of 7 or 8.


Temperature

How will your food product be stored? Is it meant to be refrigerated or frozen? Traditionally, CPP has not been freezer-friendly as the bag could break. Recent developments now have made freezer-grade laminated CPP available. However, polyethylene is freezer friendly along with laminated polyester polyethylene.



Cost

In most cases, the more material used in packaging, the more expensive it will be. You need to explore which plastic blends work best for your particular food product.


To learn more about choosing the right packaging thickness and barrier for your specific needs, feel free to reach out to Chantler Packages at 905-274-2654 or email: [email protected]