Increased consumption of vegan and vegetarian foods has become a major trend. In Germany alone, next to seven million vegetarians and one million vegans, there are approximately 17 million flexitarians that like to consume plant-based meat alternatives occasionally. This motivates even the most renowned meat producers, such as Ponnath GmbH in Germany, to expand their product range. The company Absolute Vegan Empire (AVE) from Nabburg in Bavaria has been part of the Ponnath Group since 2017. Under its brand Vantastic Foods, innovative vegan products such as Vantastic Fish Fingers and Vantastic Burger have conquered the retail shelves. As its latest development, the company has now launched vegan minced meat to the market. It is made on the basis of soy proteins and other herbal ingredients, such as coconut fat and natural spices, but does not differ in appearance, sense or taste from traditional minced meat. As such, it was able to convince consumers in numerous independent tastings.
eTray®: less plastic, more communication
Ponnath chose eTray® as the optimal packaging solution for their new product. eTray® is a joint development of packaging specialist SEALPAC and tray manufacturer Jaun-Neoform GmbH. The tray they developed is suitable for modified atmosphere packaging and consists of two components: a high-quality cardboard base, which can be printed on both sides, and a plastic inner layer that purely provides the sealing and barrier function. Owing to a highly stable, uninterrupted sealing edge, each tray is reliably sealed under MAP to ensure the safest packaging process. The innovative eTray® is suitable for denesting and allows for smooth transport across the packaging line. Compared to common trays in the market, between 40% and 60% less plastic will be used, depending on shape and size.
To create a resource-saving solution, the inner layer is produced from mono PP instead of PET. Therefore, the concept fulfils the latest guidelines in German food retail, which requires packaging materials based on polyolefins. The double-sided, high-quality printability of the cardboard base provides Ponnath with plenty of room for storytelling, for example on how to separate and dispose of the various packaging components.
Excellent handling, separation and recycling
For reliable processing of their eTray® in 190 x 144 mm size, Ponnath uses a SEALPAC A7 traysealer with 5-impression tooling in its Freiburg plant. This machine and tooling configuration allows the company maximum flexibility in production, because it can also be used to seal conventional plastic trays in the same size. The trays are denested and filled fully automatically at highest speeds. Due the reliable sealing process and optimal barrier properties, which do not differ from pure plastic trays, eTray® stands for highest product safety. The tray was designed in such a way that, after the product has been removed, the required separation of cardboard and plastic components is made easy: it just needs to be squeezed together. By doing so, both components break apart and can be disposed of in their appropriate recycling bins. This makes eTray® 100% recyclable.
Owing to their close, partnership-based cooperation, Ponnath, SEALPAC and Jaun-Neoform were able to implement the project in record time. Today, the vegan mince packaged in sustainable eTray® can be found at German retail as a delicious, plant-based alternative for the preparation of lasagne, pasta Bolognese and other meals.