Wilmington-based DuPont Co.'s annual Awards for Packaging Innovation honored breakthroughs from both industry powerhouses and smaller startups.
“The common thread was a focus on collaboration,” said lead juror Brian Wagner, vice president of Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions. “It wasn't just one company doing it by themselves; they leveraged their suppliers strategically. There was a real focus on consumer insight on the impact of packaging at shelf and throughout the user experience,” he said in a news release.
The contest's 16 winners were chosen from a pool of 200 entries from 21 countries and were recognized for excellence in innovation, sustainability and cost/waste reduction. Curwood Inc. took the top Diamond award. Fifteen other companies won Gold or Silver awards.
DuPont announced the winners March 10 in Wilmington.
Curwood took the top Diamond award for packaging technology that keeps red meat looking fresher and on the shelf longer.
Curwood's FreshCase packaging for fresh red meat “exemplifies the role packaging plays in helping to feed a growing population around the world,” said William Harvey, president of DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers.
The vacuum packaging — approved by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration — offers a shelf life of more than 30 days, about 10 times longer than store-wrapped meat.
While FreshCase has a shelf life similar to other vacuum-packed products, it is designed so meat maintains its natural red color, by adding a small amount of sodium nitrate to the contact layer of the barrier packaging, said FreshCase marketing manager Bill Goerich by telephone.
More than 85 percent of meat available in stores is packaged on an expanded polystyrene tray wrapped with PVC stretch film, and then shipped to the store in modified-atmosphere master packs. FreshCase offers increased shelf-life and sustainability advantages compared to that method, Goerich said.
Shipping master packs requires twice as much space and shipping material as vacuum packs, and can only keep a product fresh for about 14 days, he said.
FreshCase products can be displayed in a supermarket's meat case and stored in a consumer's refrigerator. The product will stay fresh for up to 30 days, cutting down on food waste, he said. The longer shelf life also lets stores stock slower-moving cuts, like ribeye or strip steak, and keep less-popular meats on the shelf year-round, he added.
Curwood said the packaging reduces markdowns and waste by 75 percent, compared to store-wrapped meats.
FreshCase technology can be used with any type of conventional vacuum packaging and does not require the use of special equipment. Curwood, based in Oshkosh, Wis., is a division of Bemis Co. Inc.
Gold award winners:
* Redesigned packaging for Pepperidge Farm's Deli Flats and Goldfish sandwich bread.
* AirOPack, a new aerosol dispenser that reduces the use of propellants. The dispenser was designed by IPS Innovating Packaging Solutions AG of Barr, Switzerland.
* Holland, Mich.-based TB Packaging LLC's soft, flexible, lightweight packaging divider that is made of soft flexible materials. The dividers cushion contents during transit and can be flattened when not in use.
Two paperboard manufactures also look home gold awards.
For more detailed information on all the winning designs, including processes and collaborating companies, see the complete story online plasticsnews.com.