tortilla chips packaging, uflex

Some four months ago, one of America’s healthiest grocery stores Whole Foods Market approached India’s largest multinational flexible packaging materials and solution company Uflex through one of the latter’s long-standing clients who had been using special packaging solution from Uflex for its Tortilla Chips.

The Problem Statement of Whole Foods Market – Multi-Layer Kraft Paper Institutional Bags with a BOPP sealant layer were not providing enough barrier to Tortilla Chips from oxygen and moisture.

Result: Chips in those institutional packs were turning soggy and rancid in barely three weeks or so. Added disadvantages of paper being torn in the supply chain or ruptured by sharp edges of tortilla chips was a double whammy.

Fabrication of multi-layer Kraft paper packs in itself is an expensive proposition that requires specialised equipment at the converters’ end with prohibitive capital costs. Printing on paper poses further limitations diminishing the aesthetics of the pack. More annoying was the fact that the Multi-Layer Kraft Paper Institutional Bags of Net Weight 16oz (1lb) 454g had to be cut open from the top for taking the chips out and leaving the consumer with no option other than consuming all of it in one go with no provision for deferred consumption without spoilage.

All these issues compelled Whole Foods Market to look for alternate packaging solution for their Tortilla Chips, and that’s when they were referred to Uflex.

Whole Foods did not want to create any confusion in the minds of consumers regarding the look and appeal of its tortilla chips packaging. Moreover being the largest seller of organic food in the US, Whole Foods Market quite essentially wanted to give a paper-like organic look to the packaging, upholding the brand ethos.

Engineers at Uflex with a clear brief from the client designed a three layered; 12.5µ coated Polyester / 18µ BOPP (both sides treated) / 35µ [olyethylene packaging structure as a 3D flat bottom pouch. Polyester provides excellent barrier from oxygen and also exhibits good thermal resistance owing to its melting temperature that is as high as 150°C-160°C. BOPP acts as a strong barrier to moisture. Polyethylene (PE) serves as a sealant layer besides imparting strength and sturdiness to the pouch. To impart a paper-like organic look, special registered matte coating was applied on the glossy polyester film.

The pouch is reverse-printed and the same machine has the facility of carrying out Registered Top Coating either in matte or gloss, rendering a transparent window. A seethrough window is always a great value addition as the consumers always prefer seeing the product packed inside for making an informed buying decision. A concealed press-to-close (PTC) pocket zipper has been provided on the front panel of the 3D pouch with a perforated strip for easy opening and protecting the product for deferred use without any fear of spoilage.

An important fact that must be noted is that usually pouches have to be cut from the top using scissors or knives in order to retrieve the snack. This can lead to contamination of food and is therefore not advisable. The PTC slider pocket pouch efficiently obviates this shortcoming.

The transformed packaging offers the following clear advantages:

  • (a) Shelf-life of tortilla chips increased to 90 days
  • (b) Opening the pack is very convenient for the consumers. Small potions can now be taken out from the institutional pack and the pouch could be zipped thereafter for deferred use keeping the quality of chips absolutely intact through the prescribed shelf-life
  • (c) The 3D pouch renders a 360° branding canvas to the pack as it has five distinct panels. This further enhances the visibility and aesthetics of the pouch at the point of sale (POS)

Talking about the new packaging for Whole Foods Market, Mr Anup Sachdeva, joint president packaging (Global Exports) at Uflex Limited said: "Earlier in December, especially for the Christmas Season we dispatched one million new pouches to the co-packer by Air. The new pouches are now on the retail shelves and I am given to understand from the client that the response has been terrific.

"The matte finished paper-like pouch perfectly lives up to the image and ethos of the organic food packed inside. More importantly the inks that we have used in the converting process are Toluene and MEK free further emboldening the brand image in the organic space. Tortilla is categorized as healthy food and enjoys a huge market in West America. Consumers are quite appreciating the press-to-close (PTC) zipper on the front panel for the great convenience that it brings along with it.

"We are getting more and more enquiries from Tortilla and other snacks brands in the United States that are still using conventional paper packaging. We are very hopeful of more business transactions fructifying in the near future."

Commenting about the success of the metamorphosed packaging of Tortilla Chips for Whole Foods Market, Mr Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director, Uflex Limited, said: "You will be glad to know that the pouch has been fabricated on a special Quad Seal Machine with a registered PTC/ Slider applicator and perforation facility. This machine has also been indigenously manufactured by our Engineering Business at the Noida Plant. Being an end-to-end multinational flexible packaging materials and solution company we offer immense ease to our clients globally. All their packaging requirements are met under one roof.

"Another very important point that I would like to mention over here is that the revamped packaging for Tortilla Chips did not require any new or specialised filling and sealing line at the co-packer’s end. The erstwhile machine fills and seals the new pouches equally efficiently. Coming to think of it, no additional Capex is a major boon for the co-packer. I am glad Uflex has been able to deliver Whole Foods Market exactly the packaging that they had been looking for. Adding value to our clients’ business through innovation is our raison d’être and my team is doing that perfectly and infallibly."