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Special Edition: Beverage Processing

‘Natural’ juice trends driving aseptic packaging and filling innovations

By Rory Harrington , 01-Sep-2010
Last updated on 01-Sep-2010 at 14:23 GMT2010-09-01T14:23:02Z

Growing demand for natural and authentic products are the major drivers informing development of SIG Combibloc’s aseptic juice packaging and filling systems in the European market.

In the second part of FoodProductionDaily.com’s special edition on beverage processing, we look at how the Swiss-based company has tailored its most recent advances in aseptic filling to tap into this fast-growing market.

Consumer trends informing packing and filling developments

SIG analysed consumer preferences in a bid to better help it meet the needs of its own customers – which led the firm to improve on their gentle processing and a unique sleeve filling system.

“Consumers want to understand the product concepts they are offered, and in accordance with the slogan 'back to the roots', they look for simplicity, naturalness and authenticity,” Norman Gierow, company global market segment manager, told FoodProductionDaily.com.

A wealth of products launched in recent years focussed on providing added-value concepts such as health benefits meant the consumer was in danger of losing sight of what was important. It was time to take a step back, he added.

Consequently, natural products such as not-from concentrate juices, the inclusion of fruit sacs and those with concentrated extracts of herbs and teas were “right on trend”, said the marketing manager.

Processing challenges

In order to meet these challenges, SIG said it focussed on developing a gentle processing and bespoke filling technique to ensure product integrity and authenticity.

“The challenge was to avoid any high-pressure situations to ensure a gentle but consistent flow of products through the system,” said Gierow.

Precision filling and keeping sealing seams free from fruit fibres were further tests for the firm, which it overcame thanks to its sleeve filling system. The process means that each carton sleeve is individually shaped, the base is sealed and the interior of the carton pack is sterilised.

“In the filling machine’s aseptic zone, the product, which has already been mixed in a product tank, is filled into the carton packs as a finished product, in precisely measured portions,” said Gierow. “The carton pack is then sealed above the filling level, to prevent product ingredients from getting caught in the sealing seam.”

Competitive systems seal through the product – whereby a long tube filled with the food or drink is cut at regular intervals. This technique - especially with fibre or fruit-containing liquids – can raise the likelihood of debris being caught in the seam which could affect the integrity of the product, said Sig.

The system has also been configured to maintain a consistent particulate content, so that each carton pack contains as unvarying a proportion of the solid fruit ingredients - such as pulp and sacs - as possible. This also reduces weight variation and minimises product giveaway, added the company.

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