In this RFI overview webinar we dive into RFI-170118, snack densification. We dive into the RFI talking about the problem, background, current technologies, and suggested directions. This is a great webinar introduction for anyone who is serious about delivering on this request for innovation.
During this 30-minute webinar, IDM Jason Guo described the problem being addressed and the scope of this RFI. As always, there was a Q&A after the main presentation.
Additionally, air-filled flexible packaging solutions create excess dead space, allow for the settling of the snacks over time, and result in unavoidable damage to the product before reaching the consumer.
There are some notable designs for densely packaged snacks. For example, some fabricated snacks have been designed to overcome the above issues by minimizing snack breakage and the amount of air, as in sheeted potato chips such as Pringles® and Stax®. These snack products are specially crafted for regularity in size and shape.
Xinova seeks inventions for the design of regularly shaped snack products that eliminate the packaging issues caused by irregularly shaped snacks.
The cost of a snack product can be highly dependent on its packaging. Fragile snacks with irregular shapes are typically packaged in flexible, air-filled bags. These flexible bags protect products from being crushed, such that when an external pressure is applied, the bags don’t burst but rather use the air in the bags to act like a pillow, cushioning the snacks. This method of random packing is widely used because it enables high-speed production at relatively low cost and requires minimal energy. However, randomly packed, gas-filled, flexible packages have numerous disadvantages, such as the following:
Dead space – Snack products packaged in randomly packed bags filled with gas often contain more than 50% dead space (i.e. air/inert gas), which primarily serves to minimize product breakage during transport, while maintaining product freshness. However, this dead space results in a much lower snack net weight per unit volume, which is one key indicator of the quantity of goods delivered to the end-consumer; consumers often complain about purchasing a “bag full of air”.
Settling of snacks over time – Randomly packed snacks settle along the bottom of the packaging during shipping, handling, and display of the packaged snacks, thereby creating a large void in the package.
Damaged product – Even when a pillow design is used, the bags are pressurized, and the merchandise is carefully packed and transported, a large portion of packaged fragile snacks can be broken before the product reaches the consumer (with this figure being in excess of 50% for some products, based on the distribution chain).
Inefficient transportation and storage – Randomly packed snack packages typically contain more than 50% gas by volume and are therefore highly inefficient for transport and storage on trucks and shipping containers. These gas-filled snack packages also require large volumes of shelf and storage space relative to the net weight of goods that they deliver.
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