Exclusive: Clemens Berger of Syntegon Talks Innovations in Packaging

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has everybody talking about it, major issues like sustainability and environmental damage are still of great importance. Clemens Berger, member of the managing board at Syntegon Technology GmbH, was interviewed by Frozen Food Europe in an exclusive piece about sustainable packaging and the impact of plastic on the environment, the importance of hygiene in packaging, innovation, and others.

What are your thoughts on sustainable packaging and the impact of plastic on the environment? What alternatives do processors have, in terms of packaging materials for food and specifically frozen food at present?

Sustainability is a particularly prevailing topic – especially in Europe but also increasingly in North America, Asia and Australia. Monomaterials and paper solutions as alternatives to packaging made of plastic materials are as much in demand as food safety and transparency when it comes to product ingredients. Consequently, we are directing our R&D efforts into this field. We have also established a company-wide sustainability team with experts in various fields that works closely with our customers on sustainable packaging solutions.

Syntegon’s strategy is primarily based on designing machines for environmentally-friendly packaging and retrofitting existing systems for alternative, more sustainable packaging material, such as paper and monomaterials. Monomaterial packaging is suitable for frozen food products in particular. When developing future-oriented packaging solutions, we also cooperate with competent partners. We accompany our customers not only as a machine supplier, but also as a consultant on the way to a sustainable future.

Considering the current pandemic, please discuss the importance of hygiene in packaging design and how processors can rest assured of 100% hygienic products and machinery?

In Europe, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) defines procedures for the analysis of critical control points (HACCP) in food production as well as specifications for the hygienic design of production and packaging machines. In the US, this is regulated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

These institutions aim to improve product safety, eliminate all sources of error and prevent harm to consumers. In the frozen food industry, product safety and quality are determined by the processing speed, measured in the IQF standard (Individually Quick Frozen), and the processing and packaging machines’ level of hygiene. In vertical bagging, a recent challenge lies in the use of non-perforated films, while at the same time reducing the air content within the bags, e.g. for efficient secondary packaging. Air expulsion innovations allow manufacturers to package their frozen products safely and efficiently while complying with the highest hygiene standards. For this reason, non-perforated packaging is gaining more attraction on the market. Flexible equipment is key in times of rapidly changing packaging designs and style; the need for flexible packaging equipment is as high as ever.

Machines that can be adjusted to different sizes and formats make it possible to design the ideal packaging for each product without losing valuable production time on format changes. Compact packaging allows for easier trans¬portation, only requiring little space. It also saves space on supermar-ket shelves as well as simplifying the secondary packaging process.

Please refer to the innovations in packaging machinery in your company’s portfolio and describe their key features.

Our new PHS 2.0 sealing system, which is integrated in our vertical bagger SVC 4020, is ideal for frozen food packaging. The PHS 2.0 can process 20-micron-thick BOPE monomaterial and creates consistent and high-quality seals with almost no free-skirt. The narrow seals and thin material enable a material reduction of up to 50%.

The SVC 4020 is a flexible vertical bagger allowing for easy change-overs between the predominant pillow bag style and up-and-coming stand-up bags. Retail demand for frozen food is increasing during the corona crisis; flexibility is therefore key for producers who want to package low-cost products in pillow bags and premium products in stand-up pouches, such as corner-seal or doy-style bags.

In terms of secondary packaging, our new Kliklok ACE (Advanced Carton Erector) platform is an example of Syntegon’s intelligent technologies. The platform features high-speed forming capabilities and can handle a wide range of carton sizes. It forms cartons and trays without glue, instead using a special lock-style or ultrasonic technology for this purpose.

The complete interview will be featured in the upcoming print edition of FFE – May-June.

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