Multiple companies in the industry keep the market competitive. 

Flexing flexibility

Hand in hand with processor interest in greater throughput is the need for versatility. To that end, Canton, Massachusetts-based Reiser has focused on versatility with its bacon packaging solutions, including its line of high-speed form, fill and seal packaging machinery that can be used with printed and registered top and bottom films, with and without a carry board and EZ Peel films.

“We came up with a flexible design that allows a customer to do an L-board and institutional food products on the same machine at much higher speeds to increase their capability. “We can do single lane applications or double-wide applications on the slicer,” says Reiser packaging specialist Mike McCann. “And there is also a move to more automation to push it even further.”
Multi-functional packaging equipment offers bacon processors flexibility and consistency all in one integrated system.

Adapting applications

In addition to throughput and labor issues, the addition of new types of bacon products impacts bacon packaging technology and applications. At pacproinc, Ward cites different varieties like low-sodium bacon or flavored bacons. “The bacon is blended and gets sliced, and needs to go on a card that shows the exact ingredients. If an operator gets the wrong card, that is an error that will be caught in holding but it still has to get repackaged,” he points out. As a result, pacproinc’s card dispenser features a patented barcode reader to verify that cards match the product being sliced. “It’s an extra quality check. Before they run 1,000 and find out it’s wrong, they can run one and pull it off if it’s for the wrong SKU,” he notes. “It’s things like this that are helping processors with production, that are changing.”

The market for precooked bacon is also affecting packaging. “We saw a slight decline in precooked 10 years ago but now, with new ovens coming out, there is a resurgence of precooked bacon with growth potential,” Ward reports. For its part, pacproinc is launching a precooked bacon autostacker for foodservice applications in January. “It’s to further automate downstream, off the end of the cook line for bacon,” explains Ward, who notes that greater automation means greater efficiencies for labor and time.

The clamor for ease of use, too, has affected package design for bacon. “Processors are using zippers and different recloseable features, as they differentiate themselves from other brands,” reports Alistair Thomson, packaging equipment manager for Multivac.

As consumer demand for bacon remains steady in both retail and foodservice markets, packaging providers say that delivering products to end users will continue to be a focus. “On the foodservice side, we’ve seen a ton of growth,” Ward says, adding that pacproinc offers solutions for both bulk and single-slice lay-flat formats. “Also, with some of the new slicing technology, they can get a fixed weight slice count, which benefits distribution houses.”