Alufoil’s History - The new millennium
The age of convenience and resource efficiency
Come 2000 resource efficiency and even better consumer convenient options were the major goals for alufoil, as they were for all material sectors, converters, brand owners, retailers and ultimate consumers.
Successes in lightweighting of alufoil which had begun in the eighties led to material savings of more than 30 % in the new millennium, and in turn this has provided growth in markets for resource efficient packaging options. Today alufoil's unique barrier properties are being merged increasingly with flexible films to create lightweight packs with excellent preservation properties and this has been instrumental in their use for a number of exciting new and expanding markets. To name just a few, pouches for everything from pet food to drinks; lidding applications; technically innovative solutions for pharmaceuticals; and the increasing acceptance of alufoil as a microwave safe material.
FOOD & DRINK
Combined with plastic films of numerous specifications - which have also developed rapidly over recent years - alufoil has enabled foods and other products to enjoy greatly extended shelf life. In contrast to three decades ago, when the steel can ruled, today autoclaving and aseptic filling of lightweight flexible packs routinely ensure that food and products are sterile and remain in top nutritional and taste conditions for many months.
Alufoil's characteristics have given it the role of ‘enabler' in several innovative applications. For example, high barrier foil laminates have transformed the vacuum packaging of coffee, once the exclusive domain of tinplate cans.
HEALTH & BEAUTY
Convenient, safe and versatile alufoil packaging offers formats for tablets, creams, liquids and powders covering an enormous variety of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Today alufoil's unrivalled barrier properties are being used increasingly for products that need to totally exclude moisture, oxygen and other gases, micro-organisms and light.
Alufoil is particularly suitable for blister packs due to its range of mechanical properties, and depending on the alloy and treatments alufoil can be made more brittle, tougher or more ductile. It can also be combined with other materials to create a range of innovative solutions including, for example, tamper-evident and child resistant blister packs.
Deep drawn alufoil containers with smooth shoulder rims have created a growing demand for prepared meals as well as meat joints and fish dishes. Advances have included intelligent design that produces not only reported lightweighting and material savings of up to 30%, but also provides add on advantages thanks to advances in alloy and design technology to give strong and stable shapes including contoured handles to help consumers grip when hot .
Additionally consumer attractive lightweight ribbed trays using innovative have brought the alufoil tray to the fore for applications such as ready to cook meat, poultry, and fish, roast potatoes, barbecue meats with marinades, and roast summer and winter vegetables.
All these strong and stable trays have the aesthetic appearance of a ‘standard' alufoil container with no acute-angled corners; and a smooth flange area to provide good heat seal integrity.
The objective is always to save time in the kitchen without compromising quality. For example small meat and poultry cuts are presented in the ready-to-cook ribbed tray, hermetically sealed and protected with an inert gas to reduce oxidation and to extend shelf life. The consumer need not touch the raw meat or fish and the dish acts as an effective, heat-conductive, cooking vessel which has secondary uses and is readily recyclable.
Alufoil's attributes as a microwave safe material was one of the most significant advances of the new millennium.