Rock-Tenn Co. and DuPont Teijin Films have formed an alliance to provide a new packaging product for case-ready meat, seafood and poultry.
The product, called System CR, was born out of a combination of DuPont Teijin's Mylar CR61 polyester lidding film and Rock-Tenn's DuraFresh thermoformed polypropylene barrier trays for modified-atmosphere packaging.
Rock-Tenn started offering the components and technical support in June.
Marty Shaw, senior director of marketing and communications at Norcross, Ga.-based Rock-Tenn, said demand from major retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. opened the doors for Rock-Tenn's entry into large-scale, case-ready meat packaging, and sparked the manufacturing agreement between his company and DuPont Teijin of Wilmington, Del.
``The case-ready industry started with poultry in expanded polystyrene,'' Shaw said recently by telephone. ``The problems with that are pretty well-known - foam cracks, it's a shallower tray, and Wal-Mart wanted to get rid of the butcher shops, and they're doing that. To do that they had to have central processing.''
Shaw said the System CR package answers needs for improved durability and product preservation, as well as more consumer-appealing aesthetics.
``The trays are white, they are deeper than EPS trays, very clean, bright, with a very strong, precise retail appearance; that was a very positive thing,'' Shaw said. ``Secondly, the trays are highly resistant to cracking.''
The Rock-Tenn/DuPont tray will compete with another PP barrier tray made by Mullinix Packages Inc. and the Cryovac Division of Sealed Air Corp. The competing package from Cryovac recently hit store shelves nationwide, said Tim Love, vice president of sales at thermoformer Mullinix Packages of Fort Wayne, Ind.
During the recent WestPack show in Anaheim, Calif., Love displayed some of the PP barrier trays his firm processes through an agreement with Cryovac, which supplies the barrier film.
Love said today's technologies for case-ready meat packaging are just the beginning, and now that major retailers are switching to the cost-cutting alternative, wider use of that kind of packaging is soon to come.
``The benefit to the retailers is a fixed cost,'' Love said, because they can eliminate in-store butcher shops. ``And it's modified-atmosphere [packaging], so they're extending the shelf life at the same time.''
Love said the package Mullinix produces with Cryovac is targeting a 12- to 14-day shelf life.
The unique selling point of the Rock-Tenn tray, Shaw said, is the anti-contamination properties of the DuPont lidding film.
``We deliver the trays pre-padded with soaker pads, and then the missing link is the film,'' Shaw said. ``With DuPont we were looking for not only a film supplier, we were looking for advantages in the marketplace.
``[Mylar] provides significant barrier properties that meet or exceed what's available. It provides significant retail appearance, it's polyester so it has great clarity, and it traps printing.''
The DuPont Teijin polyester film also has competition from Honeywell Inc. - formerly AlliedSignal - which has developed a nylon lidding film dubbed MAP-Shield AF, and a new lidding film that AEP Industries Inc. plans to roll out soon.
The System CR trays will be manufactured at two Rock-Tenn plants, in Chicago and Conyers, Ga. Combined, the plants have capacity to produce 300 million trays annually, according to Shaw.
Rock-Tenn produces paper, paperboard and plastic packaging for food and consumer goods. The company's thermoforming sales were reported at $60 million in Plastics News' most recent ranking of North American thermoformers.
DuPont Teijin, a leading supplier of polyester film, reported film and sheet sales of $1.6 billion last year.