Carrefour sees future in alternative forms of packaging

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Leading French retail chain Carrefour France has launched a range
of alternative packaging formats to the tin can for processed
vegetables, signifying another move away from traditional methods
of packaging. Anthony Fletcher reports.

Indeed the breakthrough, which has been achieved through the development of an innovative multi-layer polypropylene pack from RPC Bebo UK Corby, can be seen as a further blow to the metal packaging sector, which has seen a shift away from traditional methods of packaging and a move towards new innovative plastics.

Manufactured by Gelagri Bretagne, the new Conserves Pratiques range of vegetables is said to have an ambient shelf life of up to two years with the added consumer benefit of individually separable compartments that can be easily and quickly reheated in the microwave. Christian Claeys of Les Cles du Developpement has been responsible for the technical management of the project on behalf of Carrefour.

Each pack consists of two or four individual portions in lightweight sealed trays. The transparent pack is designed for ease of filling and maintains its shape during sterilisation. It is sealed with a peelable transparent multilayer film from LPF Flexible Packaging, and its rectangular form makes the pack easy to store (taking up one third of the space required for metal cans of equivalent capacity).

The Conserves Pratiques range includes beans, peas and mixed vegetables. It is being launched across France in Carrefour hypermarkets, Champion supermarkets and local stores under the 'Grand Jury' label.

"Conserves Pratiques represents a real breakthrough in providing a vegetable concept that meets the convenience requirement of today's consumer,"​ said Luc Fevrier, Carrefour preserved products category manager.

"As a result of excellent co-operation with Carrefour and Gelagri Bretagne, RPC Bebo's technological expertise has ensured that the concept reaches the shelves with a high standard of product protection and visual appeal."

Similarly, UK supermarket Sainsbury recently issued a press release promoting the positive results received from marketing processed chopped tomatoes in new Tetra Recart packaging. The retailer indicated that this new form of packaging could soon be rolled out across all food lines traditionally packed in the food can.

Tetra Recart, developed by Tetra Pak, is a square carton package made out of a new paperboard laminate material designed for food products traditionally packed in cans, glass jars or pouches. The carton packages can be used to pack wet shelf-stable products, such as chilli, which contain particles of any size, like beans and rice, with a shelf life of up to 24 months.

But the canning sector is fighting back. Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) technical manager David Smith said that retailers should not overlook that fact that the steel can is a tried, tested and trusted form of high performance packaging, and that 27 billion food cans are used every year in Europe alone.

"The metal food can will be around for some considerable time yet,"​ said Smith. "There will always be tests for new products and packages and the food can industry is an active innovator and will go from strength to strength through innovation, the provision of safe, nutritious food, and in addition to all the attributes mentioned above, good value for money."

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