Longer shelf life for Naturcrem creamy soups thanks to barrier IML packaging

28 May 2018

Ready-to-eat, single-serving soups have nothing but advantages: the product is healthy, tasty, ready in no time, and perfectly customized to the consumers’ needs. However, the shelf life can cause some worries – it can start to go bad once the soup comes into contact with oxygen. The innovative Naturcrem IML packaging, using the IML label with oxygen barrier, radically reduces that risk.

Eating a serving of ready-to-eat soup at work or home to still those beginning hunger pangs is a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. However, the challenge lies in getting the industrially produced soup to consumers in an optimum condition, i.e. as natural, fresh, and flavorful as possible. It’s a challenge that  injection molder ITC Packaging and Verstraete IML dealt with very concretely when Spanish food producer Dulcesol approached them with the request to provide an innovative solution to its single-serving soups. Storage wasn’t the only requirement; the packaging for the Naturcrem creamy soups had to be aesthetically distinctive when on  shelf. 

Completely organic
As the Dulcesol Group marketing director, Paco Olaso, is also one of the people responsible for developing packaging for new products; he doesn’t treat this lightly. “Value for money is in our corporate DNA,” says Paco Olaso. “First of all, this is  expressed in the products themselves. For example, our new Naturcrem creamy soups are completely organic; there are absolutely no preservatives. The packaging must tie in with this perfectly, by being visually attractive and maximally guaranteeing the quality of the soup. That’s why we contacted our long-term partners at ITC Packaging; we know that their packaging comes with added value. Together, we ultimately developed an attractive packaging with an IML oxygen-barrier label from Verstraete, which extends the products’ shelf life without requiring refrigeration. This results in significant energy savings. In addition to that,  the look is impeccable; the pentagonal base and round, open top makes the packaging an innovative format in all respects within the ready-to-eat creamy soups segment.”

360 degrees
Óscar Alcaide, Account Manager from ITC Packaging: “Dulcesol came to us, stating that they wanted to launch products in an entirely new segment: ready-to-eat, natural creamy soups. The challenge here was to develop individual packaging that is microwave-safe and has an oxygen barrier, given that the product is 100% natural and doesn’t contain any preservatives. IML was the answer because it not only met all of those requirements, but the packaging can also have a 360° decorative, non-removable IML label.”

Barrier and pasteurization
The critical element however, was the oxygen barrier in the IML label. This barrier ensures that Naturcrem soups have a shelf life of up to one year without refrigeration. Benedict Adins, Regional Sales Manager Southern Europe at Verstraete IML: “An IML label with an oxygen barrier reduces the oxygen permeability of IML packaging, in particular by making use of an EVOH layer in the IML film. This means that the OTR value, the extent of the oxygen permeability, is up to 100 times less compared to packaging with a standard IML label.”
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The labels also had to withstand pasteurization. The heat and humidity involved in the pasteurization process meant that this would be challenging. Benedict Adins: “To do this, Verstraete IML utilized a combination of specific inks, a special lacquer, and a special pasteurization-resistant oxygen barrier film. This meant that the labels on the IML packaging would maintain their quality and look, even after pasteurization.”

Millennials
“An additional, important requirement for the development was individual portions,” adds Paco Olaso. “After all, millennials want responsible foods with a minimum of trash and food wastage. We are meeting these desires in the form of Naturcrem. Next to that, IML is 100% recyclable, given that the packaging and the IML label are made from the same material. Don’t forget that 70% of buying decisions are made when the customer is already standing in front of the store shelves. That’s when packaging tailor-made with the modern consumer in mind can really make a difference.”