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Pat on the back for the clever cap

Supplier News

ANYONE who has stood before the wall of bottled drinks in their local supermarket will appreciate the value of visible tamper evidence.

Selecting a product from the variety of caps and closures available, including shrink sleeves over lids, drop-down bands, under-cap seals, plastic slit bands, metal caps or bridge-moulded closures can be a daunting experience, but the need for their existence is well understood.

Closures are a very important part of packaging, often the first thing consumers see on the shelf, so they can make or break a purchase.

Cormack Packaging managing director Matthew Cormack said the closure on packaging determines how the consumer interfaces with the product.

“Maximum visibility is critical and the way [the closure] breaks is critical,” he said.

Origins

The story began with grandma, struggling endlessly with her bottle of arthritis tablets with the child-resistant lid.

Pushing and twisting the jars each day seemed like hard work, which meant the lid’s left off rather than face the same cap-opening woes each morning.

Unfortunately this poses obvious dangers for children.

Tamper-evidence is essential in pharmaceutical packaging; however, in light of Australia’s ageing population, the need for easy opening is equally important.

Food for thought

Food and beverage manufacturers are at the forefront of this issue, sensing the need for packaging which is child-resistant, designed to keep contents in and contamination at bay, with convenience in mind.

The availability of secure closures is increasing as the need for visible tamper-evidence becomes more essential.

Cormack said feedback from international partners is important to the increasing market for tamper-evident closures.

“Consumer demand for easy-opening packaging is growing, while we are seeing less demand for under-cap seals,” he said.

Freedonia Group forecasts suggest global cap and closure demand will grow 4.8% annually through 2009

It seems the most common growth is in value-added closures that improve product safety, convenience and shelf appeal, and in the US, the biggest growth areas in closures were those with child-resistant features, according to Freedonia.

Slit band technology

Amcor Closure Systems sales manager Phil Withington said their containers with plastic closures were moving more into slit band technology for food and beverages rather than bridge-moulded closures.

“Slit band offers greater tamper-evidence,” said Withington.

Kraft Peanut Butter and Vegemite are two of the most recent and successful examples of this technology used by Amcor.

Consumers want to clearly see that products have not been tampered with before they purchase or open the product and the use of slit band technology clearly shows up any tampering.

The slit technology is an improvement on other plastic wide mouth closures, such as bridge-moulded closures, according to Withington.

He said this is because the absence of the slit in the bridge-moulded variety leaves the closure and tamper-evident band looking like a single piece both prior to and after the seal has been broken.

Opening issues

When it comes to tight caps on jars, consumers often struggle to open and reopen products, which may encourage them to try a different brand on their next purchase.

Australian condiment company Three Threes uses a standard printed metal cap on their products.

Three Threes’ sales and marketing manager Michael McAlpine said the tight caps were a problem for consumers.

“In 2004, we received numerous complaints that caps were ridiculously tight,” he said.

An American closure to prevent such opening anguish has rapidly become the local standard.

Cormack Packaging has introduced the new TECR closure for food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The cap can be used with glass and PET applications and is a three-piece design made of polypropylene

Addressing the need for visible tamper-evidence, a drop-down green band is very obvious for consumers.

The caps using this technology require minimal down-down force for removal, making them ideal for seniors while still offering effective child-resistance.

“The caps are low torque [in removal] and we’re using the ‘ideal cap’ for two of our products, the stuffed olives and the sweet mustard pickles,” said Three Threes’ McAlpine.

The technology introduced to Three Threes in January 2006, is too new to have received feedback but despite a few teething problems, they seem to be addressing the growing trends of convenience, easy opening and tamper-evidence.

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