How Tray Wrapping Provides Flexibility to the Snack Food Industry

08 April 2016 //

Project PlanningTray Packaging

The snack food industry tends to be at the forefront of product design/marketing and primary packaging trends, constantly evolving brands, products and the overall consumer experience. To that end, it’s paramount that secondary packaging efficiently and effectively keeps primary packaging in pristine condition.

If snack food products are in rigid containers that can support their own weight along with a share of the distributed pallet(s) weight, then shrink-wrapped trays may be a winning solution. Products like nuts, breakfast and granola bars, popcorn kernels, gummies, crackers, sunflower seeds, single serve mini-cookies and some bulk foods like cheesy popcorn or pretzels all typically have robust primary packaging (plastic, glass, or chip board carton) that would work well in shrink-wrapped trays.

Some products, like traditional bags of potato chips, are not ideal candidates for shrink-wrapped trays and will always require corrugate shippers. Snack food pouches also need corrugate cases for structure, which is further complicated by the non-recyclability of the multilayer co-extruded films that comprise the pouches.

For snack food products that are suitable for shrink-wrapped trays, the benefits can be viewed from two different perspectives.

  1. Benefits to Snack Food Products and Primary Packaging
  • The tray protects the most vulnerable areas of the secondary package — the bottom surface, corners and edges
  • The shrink film and tray lock and hold the product in place during distribution, further reducing the potential for product damage or scuffing
  • The tray distributes weight evenly among package(s) stacked on interlocking pallets
  • The shrink film clearly defines where the product is within the package, thereby eliminating the need to open packages with a knife and potentially compromising the snack food products
  1. Benefits to Snack Food Product Manufacturers/Retailers/Consumers
  • A single tray shrink machine is flexible and can typically be designed to accommodate a host of snack food products and pack configurations/sizes
  • Multiple types of chip board and corrugate tray styles are available that include a variety of tray wall heights, side wall tapers and uses:
    • A shelf ready/dispensing tray: After the outer wrap is removed, consumers have direct access to the snack food products without the retailer needing to unload the entire tray
    • A club store pack: No packaging is removed, and the consumer purchases in bulk quantities
    • Single-serve cups (i.e., mini cookies or crackers): Loaded into nesting trays and used as shelf-ready packs or club store packs
  • The shrink film can be clear or print registered, adding further flexibility and options for marketing and product imaging
  • In comparison to a corrugate shipper, shrink-wrapped trays have a lower environmental impact because they use fewer and often recyclable packaging materials
  • Shrink-wrapped trays are made with fewer materials and require less manufacturing and retail floor space, providing cost savings across the board

Shrink-wrapped trays are a proven secondary packaging solution in the snack food industry and would equally benefit those distributing peanut butter, applesauce and jams/jellies. Tray shrink systems are available in two base machine styles, each with a variety of configurations, and each offering its own benefits and speed capacities for the snack food industry.

Are you planning a secondary packaging project for snack foods or similar products? Consider tray wrapping before you make your next capital equipment purchase, and contact us to discuss how we can help you implement it into your packaging line.