Prepared foods processor Simply Fresh Foods, Manchester, part of the Perkins Foods Group, has adopted a new system of combined stretch and shrink-wrapping - pioneered by Japanese manufacturer Fuji - allowing the company to produce fully sealed overwrapped trays of products such as stir-fry vegetables and baby potatoes, partly cooked in garlic butter. Previously the trays were stretch-wrapped, but with the PVC film gathered below and tacked in place by a heated pad.
“Our customers, the major retailers, are constantly demanding much higher standards of presentation and pack integrity,” explains Alastair Clark, engineering manager at Simply Fresh Foods. “The Fuji stretch-shrink method gives us packs that are fully sealed for hygiene, neater than before and eliminates the risk of liquids escaping.”
Simply Fresh Foods has installed three of the new Japanese built Fuji Alpha FW 3462 stretch and shrink-wrapping machines, supplied by UK distributor Paramount Packaging Systems with Fuji multi-belt smart feeders that marshall trays arriving at random pitch accurately into the wrappers.
The machines provide an initially tight wrap that requires little shrinkage, make a bottom fin seal that is trimmed close to the tray base for a smooth appearance, and employ flow-wrapper style box-motion cross seal jaws to make a secure hermetic seal that will allow gas flushing if required.
The shrinking operation, which tightens the pack slightly and pulls the end seals in neatly below the flange of the tray, is carried out by Cryovac™ CJ51 hot air tunnels. “One of the main advantages of the Fuji stretch-shrink process is that consumer familiarity with the packaging style - the “just-prepared” look - is retained, but without risk of leakage from stretch-wrapped trays and the cross-contamination issues that retailers seek to avoid,” explains John Roberts at Paramount Packaging Systems.