Retortable packaging in Europe

Retortable packaging in Europe

Date of publication: January 2013

The ambient long-life food sector development is challenged with its market positioning and consumer concerns about quality in comparison with the chilled and/or frozen variants. Canned meals are perceived as inferior quality, less fresh and less authentic products, though their lower price-point and efficient production are key advantages. The segment is in need of modernisation, which can be done with the use of new plastic packaging solutions, and their improved process technology to deliver higher quality, long-life food products. Plastic packaging has the potential to re-vitalise mature markets such as soup, canned fruit, vegetables and fish, by introducing convenient, added value containers suited to modern day living. 

Growing consumer demand for convenience foods and on-the-go meal solutions  is driving the packaging innovation and plastic boasts superior functionality and aesthetics versus traditional packaging, including portability, microwaveability, re-sealability, ease of opening, portioned servings, in-pack serving, light-weight and shatterproof.

With steel prices climbing, major users of cans are committed to finding value-for-money, light-weight and convenient alternatives to traditional packaging media, promising a bright future for plastic retort packaging.

Moreover, new sustainability agendas put traditional materials under review -  even though there are established waste streams for glass and cans across Europe, these materials score lower than plastic from the production carbon footprint analysis. 

However, there are obstacles to overcome which will limit wholesale substitution and challenge suppliers over the coming years: filling speed, cost and disposal. Furthermore, transitioning to plastic means overcoming the technical challenges that pasteurisation and retort shock dictate - both in regards to the container and the closure/lid. AMI's investigated these challenges and the existing technical solutions.

  The report:

  • Quantify current and future demand of retort packaging by material and end use application.
  • Quantify in details current plastic retort packaging supply and demand, segmented by format and end use application.
  • Define the scope and growth prospects of the opportunity resulting from material conversion from conventional materials such as metal and glass to plastic.
  • Discuss the structure of supply within each application format.
  • Identify the end use customers and their product offering.
  • Discuss the potential propositions provided by new products/technologies and the criticalities in their commercial development.

Introductory map
The study provides background information on the alternative food sterilisation methods, such as heat sterilisation (retorting), food irradiation, pascalisation and arising new technologies, such as microwave sterilisation. AMI reviews the existing retort types (for example batch vs. continuous) and their applications.

Food sterilisation is interlinked with food processing and filling methods, hence background information on alternative filling processes such as cold fill, hot fill and aseptic filling are also be explained.

Material Scope
AMI researched and analysed the market demand for the following materials used in retortable packaging such as metal, glass, paper and plastic. 

Format scope
The study focuses on retort packaging, defined as sterilised retorted containers for food consumer goods. Plastic retortable packaging are segmented into bottles/jars, pots/tubs, trays, pouches/sachets/bags, and tubes

Market Scope
For the purposes of this study, the market is divided into eleven major end-use applications.

Leading companies
AMI identified and contextualised:

  • The leading brand-owners/fillers per end use category
  • The leading retort plastic packaging converters
  • The leading metal and glass packaging suppliers
  • The leading retort machinery suppliers.

The study covers the thin wall packaging market within 27 EU countries + Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. The European market developments will be put in the global context and market innovations coming e.g. from North America and Asia.

Subscribers will receive two printed copies and one PDF copy of the report as a single user license.

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