Ilapak’s Delta VACMAP technology is flying out, as food manufacturers look for ways of prolonging the shelf life of fresh baked goods without the use of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
“Consumers are rejecting products that contain artificial preservatives or have undergone heavy processing in a bid to extend shelf life. Our Delta VACMAP technology, which combines a thermoforming shelf life with a pillow pack presentation, plays into the hands of this trend. In the last two years, sales of this technology have doubled, mirroring the response from the market,” says Christian Ballabio, Product Manager at ILAPAK.
Christian notes “We are also experiencing particularly strong demand from the growing gluten-free sector - these products tend to command a premium over conventional products, so consumers expect a long shelf life and don’t want this to be achieved via the use of preservatives.”
By performing gas flushing and vacuuming at the same time, this unique modified atmosphere technology can extend the shelf life of items like fresh pizzas, croissants, brioche and tortillas to up to 30+ days – normally only achievable with a thermoforming process. At the same time manufacturers benefit from a more attractive, environmentally friendly and cheaper packaging format at a time when plastic waste reduction is a huge focus.
“Consumers prefer flow wrap packs to thermoformed trays because they are lighter and use less packaging material. Retailers like the fact flow wraps occupy less shelf space and allow for easier handling,” says Christian.
The fully automatic Delta VACMAP HFFS (horizontal form-fill-seal) machine combines a modified atmosphere system with long dwell wrapper technology. Products are placed in a carousel unit equipped with vacuum chambers. The vacuum process removes any air from inside the product, then a gas flushing cycle replaces the original volume of air with a gas mix. At this point the system returns to atmospheric pressure, opens the chamber and presents the product to the flow wrapper. The entire vacuuming, gas flushing and packaging process can be performed at speeds of up to 60ppm.
The modular design of the Delta VACMAP also gives users the flexibility to run frozen and fresh products on the same line. They can simply disable the carousel unit via an automatic cell selection function to operate the machine in by-pass mode, at higher speed as a standard flowrapper.
The Delta VACMAP concept offers a number of advantages over thermoforming: the process is continuous rather than intermittent; size changeovers are easy and fast; and feeding of the product can be carried out by a single operator.
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