Quilt Wave, the new food packaging solution developed by Graphic Packaging International (GPI) of Marietta, Georgia, for Sepp’s Gourmet Foods of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, quickly browns and crisps food products when they are reheated in a microwave oven.
The versatile food packaging material, with built-in microwave susceptor to maximise browning and crisping, resembles a ‘quilt’ when the package is exposed to microwave energy. Sepp’s Gourmet Foods, suppliers of sandwiches, frozen waffles, pancakes, wraps, French toast, etc, was looking for an effective and practical packaging solution to enhance the taste and texture of its products when they are reheated in microwave oven.
A major supplier of paperboard packaging solutions , Graphic Packaging International (GPI) developed the new pouch for Sepp’s Gourmet Foods over a three-month period. The new product was developed to operate on the existing horizontal Form, Fill, and Seal equipment, enabling the company to continue in production without much changeover time.
Quilt Wave, part of Graphic’s MicroRave product line, is a flexible, three-layer, active microwave food package. The new packaging material is a combination of paper, plastic and metal. The product can be used either as a stand-alone pouch or package, or as an element in a paperboard carton, tray or sleeve.
Light paper is laminated on both sides with PET film. The laminated cells, or ‘quilts’, are designed to expand when exposed to microwave energy.
As the quilt expands, inflated cells touch the surface of the food and insulate it from the environment to increase the sensible heat flux to the food surface.This causes maximum browning and crisping. During this time, channels between the inflated cells allow moisture to evaporate from the food’s surface and out of the package, enhancing crisping.
Once the food is cooked, the package cools, but the cells remain inflated, protecting the consumer’s hand from the hot food inside.
Quilt Wave was awarded the prestigious ‘Best of the Best’ DuPont Award for Innovative Packaging for 2005. This is the second time the package has been recognised for its technical advancement, with a previous ‘Best in Class’ new product in the food category by the Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL).
In 2008, Quilt Wave won the AmeriStar Award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). The award was given for use of the Quilt Wave technology in a product called Oscar Mayer Fast Franks from Kraft Foods. Quilt Wave won the award based on excellence in six attributes including innovation, protection, economics, performance, marketing and environmental impact.
The Quilt Wave package is ideal for convenience foods. The pouch can be used as a cooking utensil to heat the food, and consumers can eat from the package itself. Pre-cooked and flash frozen snacks are toasted to perfection in the microwave in just 60 seconds.
Quilt Wave technology can be used with other irregular-shaped food products, including nuggets, sandwiches and breaded items. The paper and film package provides heat-and-eat convenience for portable foods like sandwiches, hand-held entrees, pizza, and finger foods. As heat dissipates quickly, the pouch is not hot to the touch and is very safe to handle.
The product is convenient for operators and stores because distributing the product is easy due to its portability.
GPI developed the package to match the existing horizontal Form, Fill and Seal equipment at Sepp’s, which means no changeover time. Sepp’s has modified the existing equipment in its Burnaby, British Columbia, plant to produce the grilled cheese sandwich, and is planning additional lines at the company’s Toronto plant where it currently manufactures waffles and tortillas.