The demand for time-saving convenience coupled with high quality in terms of nutrition and taste has been as much to the benefit of cats, dogs and other domestic pets as to their human owners.
From a position of having no products in this market alufoil containers have become a major packaging format, being sterilisable while at the same time bringing visual appeal, lightweight, ease of use and full product protection to the ‘moist’ pet food category. Today flexible alufoil laminates provide even greater choice through sterilisable pouches and cartons. Brand owners can choose the right format to suit the requirements of both animals and their owners.
The outcome of close collaboration between container producers and specialist inks and coatings manufacturers, the lidded alufoil dish provides an ideal combination of characteristics to make it a highly successful pet food pack. It is compact, attractive in appearance, fully protective yet easy to open and use. The lightness of the metal and the stacking format of the empty container achieves space and handling economies during filling. The metallic finish can be enhanced with coloured lacquers and high quality multi-colour printing. Development continues through alloy ‘tailoring’, down gauging and alternative printing techniques, designed for shorter runs without loss of performance or added costs.
Retortable ‘stand-up’ pouches are now an everyday packaging format with the perfection of coatings and laminates designed to resist the rigours of autoclave sterilisation. To guarantee the integrity of the product, an alufoil layer is essential for protection against light and gases. As with shallow alufoil containers, the thin laminate and slim format of the flexible pouch enables heat to penetrate to the whole of the product and also for it to cool very quickly. This means less overcooked product than with traditional, cylindrical cans. Pouches, which can also be used for non-sterilised dry pet food products, are easy to tear or cut open and can incorporate a re-sealable component.
A major breakthrough for flexible packaging into the ‘canned food’ market was the first fully retortable, foil-lined carton system. The flexible alufoil laminate is used to form rectangular containers which undergo heat sterilisation. The aluminium foil barrier is key and permits a shelf life of up to two years. Opening is simple thanks to a perforated seam at the top of the carton. The foil-lined material requires a low level of resources.