March 2015 – If a bouquet has wilted by the time it reaches its destination, it has missed its purpose. To prevent this from happening, the British chain of stores Marks & Spencer’s ran a pilot project some time ago, applying so-called Modified Atmosphere Packaging to the shipping of cut flowers for the first time. In the UK alone more than 15,000 customised bouquets of roses were vacuum-sealed and dispatched for Valentine’s Day.
The packaging, already common in the food industry, is an eco-friendly money saver. By doing without water, M&S saved around 10,000 litres of liquid, while at the same time reducing the weight and therefore simplifying shipment. It meant that 25% fewer delivery vans were needed, and carbon emissions, too, went down by as much as one quarter.
Experts are expecting to see a further increase in the use of modified atmosphere packaging for freshly cut products. MAP does not require any costly or time-consuming restructuring of packaging machinery. Depending on the raw material that is used, the air in the packaging is simply replaced by a suitable gas mix, and the oxygen content is automatically reduced.
The sealing process is suitable for nearly all raw materials, and there is no need for additional chemical stabilisers or preservatives, whether the material is plastic or film.
Quality checks on packaging perforation
One company that specialises in the many versatile applications of MAP is Rofin-Sinar Technologies Inc. Based in the US, it specialises in system solutions involving industrially applied materials and laser treatment. In one of its latest developments ROFIN has successfully used a monitoring camera to identify the exact perforation diameter for MAP packaging film in real time. The data obtained from VisionPerfoControl is saved and then read to avoid wrong settings in the production of packaging.