Thermoformer Chooses Clarified PP For New Food Containers
Deploying a new clarifier masterbatch has spurred a sheet extruder and thermoformer to expand its product offerings beyond PET to PP for the first time in its history. Lacerta Group Inc. has extended the capabilities of its popular Fresh N’ Sealed anti-tamper food packaging beyond cold foods by adopting Milliken Chemical’s NX UltraClear concentrate for processing PP. Launched two years ago, the new concentrate is based on Milliken’s Millad NX 8000 fourth-generation nonitol-based clarifier, which has been shown to produce 50% less haze at any part thickness—which Milliken calls a step change beyond previous clarifiers.
Lacerta was founded in 1993 by Ali Lotfi, his brother Mory, and his cousin Moustafa. The firm has focused on offering high-quality, innovative thermoformed packaging solutions. Headquartered in Mansfield, Mass., it has three U.S. facilities that together account for more than 250,000 ft2 of manufacturing and warehousing space, plus a sister company in Toluca, Mexico Lacerta is buying PP rollstock made with NX UltraClear for its new range of Fresh N’Sealed products. Expanding to clarified PP for both the container and lid enables Lacerta to fulfill customer requests for hot-fill and/or microwavable capabilities.
The material combines high-temperature resistance with glass-like clarity, light weight, and easy recyclability—attributes that enhance the freshness and quality assurance provided by Lacerta’s tamper-evident features. A 24-oz, round Fresh N’ Sealed concept container was recently launched at IDDBA 2017, a show run by the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association. Initially, Lacerta is offering the new container as a customized solution.
Says Ali Lotfi, “Our updated Fresh N ’Sealed packaging is one of the first clear PP designs to provide anti-tamper features. Our customers will get the benefit supplied by our PET containers, plus the ability to use this packaging far more broadly for hot-fill applications and for microwaving. We’re confident that Fresh N’ Sealed containers made with NX UltraClear PP will be even more appealing to consumers who value convenience and quality. Our ongoing collaboration with Milliken is helping Lacerta take the lead in delivering next-generation packaging for the fast-growing fresh-to-go market.”
Lacerta runs 16 thermoformers that average less than five years old. Most of its formers are supported by robots. The company also has one twin-screw extruder for extruding sheet from postconsumer recycled PET, with another unit on the way.
Lacerta and Milliken (Spartanburg, S.C.) say the new package offers benefits to consumers, retailers, and brand owners:
- Consumers can reheat foods without the need to transfer them to a microwave-safe container. Vents in the lid allow steam to wick away from the contents. Shoppers also can visually inspect package contents to check freshness, and can tell from the “Pull Here to Open” tear strip whether the container has been tampered with.
- Using the packaging’s stand-up foot, grocery stores and supermarkets can improve visibility of food products and merchandise more effectively. Secure stacking maximizes shelf space, while the leak-resistant design avoids waste and mess from spillage. Also, retailers can streamline their supply chain and reduce inventory by using Lacerta containers for both hot and cold foods.
- Brand owners can use the packaging for new offerings, such as meal kits, soup kits, and ready-to-go meals in the hot case. The tamper-evident design does not require overwrap or shrink bands, helping to reduce cost and complexity.
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