MeatCrafters Skinny Salamis are packaged in foil instead of film to help provide a longer shelf life.

Packaging meets printing

Bemis Co. Inc., North America, based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, creates packaging for food and non-food products. The company created packaging for several leading national brands of meat snacks and jerky that incorporate “tactile” print. The textured print can be formulated to look and feel like leather, paper or a supple/soft film, says Pete Bruehl, marketing manager for processed meats and bacon at Bemis.

This is the latest in new packaging trends for meat sticks and jerky, a segment of the meat processing industry and meat sales that’s growing by leaps and bounds. The packaging is achieved through a proprietary printing process. The oriented polyester used is reverse printed and surface printed on a printing press to achieve the tactile look and feel, Bruehl says.

“Once printed, the film is laminated to a barrier sealant to complete the structure. Ink type, number of colors, amount of coverage and drying time are all critical factors to achieve the desired look” he says.

The unique design was developed as meat snack manufacturers search for differentiation in their brands to help them sustain and gain market share. “Printing is typically a relatively easy upgrade for customers to re-innovate their products and brand, as the films will still run on existing packaging equipment,” Bruehl points out. “The cost impact is less, since it’s just a graphics change, versus buying additional packaging equipment.” He says the tactile format can be used in vertical and horizontal form-fill-seal packaging, flow-wrap and pouch applications.

Because meat snacks and jerky continue to grow in popularity, there are also other new packaging trends. Printing and graphics have been used widely for years to make products stand out and look different from others on the store shelf, with matte, anti-glare and tactile looks. “Most of the print is high ink coverage, up to 10 colors,” Bruehl says.

He adds that portion control for on-the-go convenience is a major trend, combined with packaging that is portable, easy to open and easy to separate (as is the case with perforated packages). Bruehl says product type has changed, with different protein snack formats, – all of which include printing on both sides to allow for more branding on the front, while featuring the necessary nutritional information on the back side of the package.