Every year I am met with the task of sniffing out what's new and happening in petfood and treat packaging. In past years trends have included convenience, portability and sustainability. While these trends aren't going anywhere as far as consumers are concerned, it's time to add another buzzword to the list: efficiency. Whether it's simplifying the look and labeling on a package of dog treats or installing new equipment for more up-time on your production line, packaging materials, products and technologies should give both pet parents and petfood packagers what they pay for, precisely.

According to A-B-C Packaging, packagers who need to run multiple package sizes and pack patterns for a variety of retailers now have a way to reduce downtime for case packer changeover with A-B-C’s Model 206 case packer. The case packer works with many styles of cartons, cans and semi-rigid containers, single or multipacks, into RSC, HSC, HSC display cases or trays. Changeover is accomplished at the operator console: select the new product and case/tray size from the pre-programmed options and the motorized changeover is activated ensuring automatic, repeatable adjustment to the new specifications, says the company. For extreme product size changes where change parts are required, modules with locking handles are used to ensure simple, no-tools changeover. The Model 206 packs up to 30 cases per minute depending on the product and pack pattern and offers a case range from minimum 7”L x 6”W x 5.5”H to maximum 18”L x 16”W x 18”H.

Ampac recently announced the addition of Inno-Lok, a patented method of applying a reclosable zipper transversely to packaging films, as well as Pour & Lok, a foldable zipper applied to film in the side gusset area of a package. The Inno-Lok technology is applied transversely to packaging films producing pre-zippered roll stock film which can be used in form, fill and seal packaging applications. Inno-Lok incurs no reductions in processing and filling speeds, no increase in scrap or set-up time and a savings of up to 25% in zipper material, says Ampac. Inno-Lok will be offered on Ampac’s coextruded surface printed films and laminated films, for both barrier and non-barrier end uses. Common applications for Ampac’s Inno-Lok pre-zippered roll film capabilities include traditional front panel Inno-Lok (thumb tab or pull tab openings), bag top, plus Pour & Lok. Pour & Lok is a foldable zipper applied to film in the side gusset area of the package creating a reclosable pour spout. This unique application is so innovative only three US companies, including Ampac, own this capability, according to the company.

Blue Dog Bakery recently unveiled "fully refreshed packaging" across its product line. The new packaging, produced by the award-winning design team at Hornall Anderson, gives Ruffy, the brand’s blue dog mascot, a makeover and reveals a new modern look. When CEO Kyle Polanski took the helm at Blue Dog Bakery in 2009, he began a charge to bring a fresh look to the brand to better compete with the big dogs of the treat world. “For a brand our size, packaging is critical to our success and our new design ensures that we’re perfectly positioned for growth and expansion.” A simplified presentation highlights Blue Dog Bakery’s unique offerings to consumers such as the fact that the treats are all natural, low fat and made in the USA. Updated typefaces make for better readability, icons tout the treats’ key benefits and an “Our Community” section on box side panels highlight the company's support of various animal rescue organizations. The new packaging also reinforces Blue Dog Bakery’s confidence in the quality of their product by visually highlighting the treats and incorporating new clear windows on the front of bagged items that allow shoppers to see what the treats inside look like.

Glenroy Inc. has introduced HPC (High Performance Component), a tie layer technology for foil-based flexible packaging. Developed using customer feedback, HPC flexible packaging structures feature chemical resistance, high-performance oxygen and moisture barrier properties, machinability and roll conformity, and economical pricing, says Glenroy. According to the company, test results have shown HPC flexible packaging structures frequently outperforming other foil-based flexible packaging structures. Manufactured with state-of-the-art extrusion lamination equipment, HPC is available as a component within Glenroy’s line of foil-based flexible packaging laminations. HPC flexible packaging laminations are also available within Glenroy’s line of ExpressWeb surface printable packaging films, which are stocked and ready to ship within two to three business days, says the company.

Oxbow Animal Health Inc. (supplier of premium food products for small animals) had been using conventional vertical form/fill/seal bagging systems to handle its packaging needs. In recent years, Oxbow introduced a new, more compact bag style with a stand-up base, reclosable zipper system, and updated, high shelf impact graphics for its “Essentials” brand of petfoods. The premade LLDPE, quad-bottom bags with pre-attached zippers are custom-designed, 8-color-printed, and supplied by PolyCello. To accommodate the new bags, Oxbow wanted a single-source, weighing, filling and bagging system that could easily handle 10-lb. and 5-lb. bags and 2-oz. treat-bag sizes.

The company’s search led them to WeighPack Systems Inc. After evaluating WeighPack’s equipment, Oxbow opted for a PrimoWeigher 360 14-head combination scale and a Swifty Bagger 3600. The PrimoWeigher 360 incorporates remote, on-line servicing capability and bundled software that allows WeighPack’s service technicians to connect to the weigher through the operating system with the customer’s consent and pin code. To partner with the weigher, Oxbow chose the Swifty Bagger 3600 horizontal bagging machine with straight flow-through design. In contrast to the older, more conventional rotary designed systems, this bagger houses all the moving parts in the front of the machine and all the mechanics in the back. This compact design configuration makes the bagger easy to service, clean and maintain, decreasing downtime, says WeighPack. “The weighing speeds are about the same as with our previous scale system, but the wider range of bag sizes we can run now is a strong plus for us, and the weighing is very accurate. With this system, we have good leeway to add new bag sizes, if we want to,” said an Oxbow representative.

Online product database features many more packaging technologies!

Go to www.petfoodindustry.com/Products.aspx to check out our online database of dozens of products, including an entire Packaging section. Chose from sub-categories including cans, pallets, paper bags, paper board cartons, plastic bags, wet petfood pouches and other packaging materials. Or, click on the Equipment tab for categories such as batching systems, conveying systems, dry petfood packaging systems, material handling, palletizers/depalletizers, treat packaging systems and wet petfood packaging systems.