It is without doubt that the packaged cheese market has been in development in terms of the choice in packaging material and the technology of the packaging process. Fortunately we have also seen some improvements in convenience for the consumer, particularly in answer to the frequently claimed consumer irritation regarding opening and resealing for storage of the non-consumed part of the pack.
Nevertheless over the whole line the cheese packaging is a dull affaire. There doesn’t seem a lot of creativity in the offices of the marketers of cheese.
Cheese is a typical bulk product, a commodity for daily consumption and consequently produced and packaged with high output machinery. It’s after all an industrialised product that has to reach the marketplace for an affordable price. And, thus restricts the bulk market itself to technical improvements.
Fortunately, like the growing interest in craft beer, there are more and more (relatively small) cheese makers, who still see the creation of their product as an art and design a packaging that fits that image.
After describing some developments in standard packages and packaging material for the bulk cheese producer, we will have a look at some creative designs which enlightens the dull cheese market and might stimulate the marketers of the bulk cheese to take a second look at their own industrialised packaging.
Long since paper wraps (or cheese paper) is used by the cheesemongers to store cheese in a way that preserves its freshness and flavour. In industrial environments cheese paper isn’t used anymore for hard cheese (Gouda, Edam, etc), but in France a type of cheese paper is very much common in industrialised packaged soft cheese (Camembert, Brie, etc).
Paper wraps/Cheese paper
Most cheese the consumer finds in the supermarket is packaged in plastic film. It might be a vacuum pack, a MAP pack, a shrink wrap or just a simple cellophane wrap, but the consumer has the advantage or being able to see what he buys.
Although the plastic packaging guarantees a certain period of freshness, websites specialising in cheese advice to remove the product from the plastic wrap and re-wrap it in special cheese paper to keep the cheese fresh longer.
Cheese paper is a special paper produced specifically for wrapping and preserving cheese. The 2-ply paper allows proper oxygen exchange as one ply is a permeable cellophane that allows the cheese to breathe, and the other is similar to butcher paper and retains moisture.
Formaticum is one of the well-known brands of cheese paper. This way of packaging or re-packaging is very popular in countries like Italy with its large variety of hard and soft cheeses.
Although every now and then you see a company packing its cheese product in cheese paper or a variant of it, in the industrial arena plastic is, already for years, the material of choice to package cheese.
Packpyrus from Amcor is a thermo-formable cellulose-based packaging, particularly suitable for pre-sliced products like cheese, thanks to its oxygen barrier. It also creates enhanced product differentiation on supermarket shelves, due to its ‘Kraft paper’ natural look and feel.
Amcor provides Packpyrus in three versions, i.e. Packpyrus Flexible for vacuum pack base webs, as well as Packpyrus Semi-Rigid and Packpyrus Rigid for modified atmosphere base webs.
Amcor claims that Packpyrus Flexible and Packpyrus Rigid improve the life cycle performance in comparison to the traditional used cPA 80 / PE 100 and APET/PE-EVOH-PE 300/50, as thanks to their lightness, and use of renewable fibres, they offer a reduction in the cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of about 70% and 60%, respectively.
CEREC, the French Committee for the Evaluation of Recyclability of Paper and Cardboard Packaging, published, some time ago, a favourable technical assessment for two of the Amcor Packpyrus formats. As such, packaging made from these Amcor Packpyrus materials is allowed to feature the ‘Info Tri Point Vert’ (Waste sorting Green Dot) pictogram, which was created by Eco Emballages to help encourage consumers to correctly sort their household waste for recycling.
Reseal technology or recloseability of a packaging is so important to consumers that it can even have an impact on their purchasing decisions. A report found that when asked to choose between two cheese products – one with recloseability built in and one without 20% of the consumers who went for the recloseable pack cited that function was the main reason for their choice.
As a result of these findings it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that a number of brands and retailers have started to roll out resealable packaging. But many a so called opening/reclosing feature doesn’t work properly and only enlarge the irritation of the consumer even further. Curwood claims it found the solution.
SmartTack Flexible EZ Peel Reseal packaging
Peel-reseal packaging has been available previously only in rigid or semi-rigid packaging formats. The Curwood SmartTack Flexible EZ Peel Reseal packaging (really a mouth full) is said to be the first peel-reseal technology that can be used with 100% flexible packaging.
SmartTack Flexible EZ Peel Reseal technology allows makers of chunk, sliced or snack cheeses to offer peel-reseal convenience using flexible thermoforming films as low as 3-mil thick. Consumers just peel open the flexible package, cut a slice or chunk, then reseal the package to keep the contents fresh. They never even have to touch the cheese.
SmartTack Flexible EZ Peel Reseal packaging is said to peel cleanly open and can be resealed up to 20 times with fingertip pressure, setting a new standard for performance. The improved formulation also has enhanced tamper evidence in the form of seal whitening.
So it’s time to bring some creativity in the cheese packaging. The story is too long, so in the next article tomorrow, we have a look at some beautiful and efficient designs. We start with a New Zealand/Russia creation for the Captain John cheese brand. Then we will see a dual-purpose packaging for Galician cheese, the cheese Pencils of the Deli Garage, Bask Etxegarai cheese in metal tins, and from Germany a “Paneer and Mozarella” packaging.