A Beginner’s Guide to Tray Wrapping

04 March 2016 //

Flexible PackagingTray Packaging

Case packing absolutely has its place in the packaging industry. There are products that simply need to be in a case, and therefore require companies to bear the cost of corrugate shippers. On the other hand, there are products currently being case-packed that could be successful candidates for tray wrapping, which would eliminate costly corrugate and ultimately provide savings to consumers.

How does one determine what makes for a good tray-wrapped product? What are the benefits of tray wrapping? Let’s examine and answer these questions individually.

First and foremost, the ideal tray-wrapped product must have primary packaging that supports its own weight. The ultimate goal is to ensure that an entire pallet, or pallets, of product can bear its own weight without tipping over or crushing the primary product packaging.

Canned and jarred goods easily accommodate tray wrapping because the primary containers can support their own weight, and/or the weight of multiple pallets. Things get a little cloudy when similar principles are transitioned to goods in flexible packaging, but with some minor modifications tray wrapping is successful. Take vacuum-sealed bags of coffee, for example. When case-packed, the variability in density and volume of the coffee packages creates wasted space between the bag and the top of the case, making it susceptible to shifting during shipping. By moving to a high-wall tray and conforming the film to the tray’s shape, the coffee packages can be firmly held in place, eliminating case packaging.

While tray wrapping is advantageous for many products, it can’t necessarily be adopted universally, largely due to specific supply chain and warehousing process requirements. For instance, pallet stacking may prevent a migration away from corrugate shippers if the product can’t support itself. However, if a warehouse utilizes a pallet flow system or racking system, tight wrapping or bundling poses less of a challenge.

What Are the Benefits of Tray Wrapping?

Beyond consumer cost savings, key advantages to tray wrapping include:

  • Reduced corrugate costs as compared to a shipper
    Reducing packaging material costs is another way of producing a more efficient product. Moving from a conventional shipper to a shrink-wrapped tray offers savings across the board.
  • Better product visibility and handling
    When distribution personnel can see the product they’re handling, they tend to be more careful with it. There is no opaque corrugate box providing an illusion of protection.
  • Self-dispensing trays
    Shelf-ready trays make it easy for store clerks to load shelves. Efficiencies gained in packaging material reduction or shelf loading also offer convenience and cost benefits to consumers.
  • Promotional benefits
    Printed trays provide constant advertising keeping products top of mind with consumers even when the shelf is empty.
  • Less waste to collapse and recycle
    From a retailer’s perspective, the receipt and distribution of goods can be labor intensive, especially as it relates to disposal of secondary packaging. A full corrugate shipper can be collapsed, but it still has more volume than a similarly collapsed tray. On the other hand, poly wrap is easy to remove, lightweight and compacts nicely.

Tray wrapping offers a holistic approach to secondary packaging, and provides value to producers and consumers alike. Consider how tray wrapping might improve your business during your next capital equipment purchase and then contact us to learn how you may be able to implement it into your packaging line.