Modes of packaging food grains for distribution
Mar 12 2012, 16:02 | By Infomedia18
Different types of packaging materials have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Image: SME Mentor
We have learned that by simply increasing the production of food grains does not bring prosperity, it requires a proper mechanism to handle other aspects, such as food security, which involves appropriate preservation, packaging, storage, etc.
Protection requirements and modes of packaging can contribute to ensuring preservation and dissemination of food grains. The types of packaging adopted for the distribution of these products fall under three categories.
Bulk packs: The capacities generally vary between 25 and 100 kg. These packages have traditionally been in vogue since long till the end-of-line sales, through public distribution system or regular commercial distribution system. The choices available are as follows:
In some cases, the bags are open-mouthed and valved. As required, these media could be laminated with barrier film lines (internally or externally or in-between the plies (in case of multiwall paper sacks and high-gauge monolayer and co-extruded structures). These materials have their positive and negative features as well as advantages and disadvantages.
Jute and Hessian bags are traditional, stronger, enable ease in handling and storage (also permit high stack without slip), but are sensitive to natural factors and degrade. As a result, these lose their properties and become relatively ineffective.
Woven bags are stronger, cleaner and more attractive, besides providing good surface for printing. These are less sensitive to microorganisms and light in weight, but relatively slippery, and hence difficult to high stack.
Co-extruded structures are stronger and more impermeable, and hence may not be suitable for products that need to breathe. One advantage is the possibility of using recycled materials, and thereby cost optimisation. These structures offer good surface for printing, but polyolefins need further treatment for better printing and print adhesion. These can be coloured, have good microbial resistance, are light in weight and allow incorporation of anti-slip agents. Generally, these types of bags do not find application in cereals packaging, but could be a better and useful choice for retail/consumer packs.
Similarly, multiwall paper sacks have not made any impact and sizeable inroads into cereals packaging. With the current material handling system prevalent in the country, wherein most of the handling is done manually and less mechanical/auto system is not available, the use of high-gauge film, co-extruded film and multiwall paper sacks will face constraints in their acceptance. Therefore, the competitive materials for bulk packaging currently appear to be jute/Hessian bags and woven synthetic bags.
Institutional packs: The quantity per pack could be in the range of 2-10 kg. Most materials deliberated under bulk packaging find application as institutional packs. Often they are more attractively printed, gusset type being adopted and are also provided with handles.
Retail consumer packs: Whole and split cereals and pulses need a relatively lower level of preservative/protective properties, while milled, processed and ready mixes demand higher preservative properties and higher barriers, as these are more sensitive to environmentally deteriorative factors and the packs are sold through retail supermarket/department stores and organised outlets, which demand higher shelf life.
The recent trend is to brand the product as they are aimed as value-added products. The package types (material-wise), forms and graphics show considerable variation. The material segments like simple LDPE, HDPE, LDPE/Linear LDPE (LLDPE), polypropylene, etc. are used for packing whole and split cereals and for other product groups that need short market life.
When the situation of branding, competitiveness, sales through organised retail is considered, the package type and design take a different turn and a newfound responsibility towards a better and longer protection need as well as improved formability and printing for excellent graphics.
Flexible laminates of the type polyester/poly, Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)/foil/poly, folding board cartons, lined cartons and the like are the choices available. The packaging mechanism could be manual or automatic, such as the Form-Fill-Seal (FFS) system and lined carton system. With changing consumer preferences, modern retailing assuming different marketing needs and brand attachments increasing the packaging systems require more innovative and creative ideas.
Changing for the better
Grains, cereals, pulses are stable materials and easy to pack.The facts, however, seem to be otherwise. Product developments within the range are on the rise, governed by consumer preferences. Although regional sentiments are still valued, a change can be seen in the food perception of consumers who are now looking for new tastes; hence, this necessitates a change in packaging needs. Product areas, which seemed simpler to pack, today offer more challenges, and therefore necessitate meeting the novel, scientifically sound ‘Pack for the market’ requirements of today.
P V Narayanan is member of board, Apeda (Ministry of Commerce)and expert consultant in the field of packaging.
Post Your Comment
Recent Comments (0)
May 20 2013, 21:04
May 20 2013, 20:41