Dairy products are one of the fastest-growing industries in the market. The rich taste of milk, not to mention its calcium and protein content, makes it a staple food source. However, these items have limited shelf life and are very sensitive to spoilage. Hence, packaging and preservation are crucial elements to consider in the business.
Dairy products that quickly diminish quality are often caused by poor packaging, which immediately impacts their taste, appearance, and, ultimately, human health. As a result, producers are constantly looking for innovative ways to keep their items to preserve and protect freshness over time optimally.
General Rules In Dairy Product Packaging
Milk-based products are packaged using numerous elements that prevent contamination, leaking, and spoiling. The exact choice of materials depends on product type, processing, and storage conditions. It also takes into consideration handling and end-purpose use.
Materials such as glass, plastic bottles, tubs, pouches, laminates, and cans are the most commonly used packaging items for dairy products.
However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to using these containers. The bottom line is that the material creates a harmonious balance between packaging functions and has minimum impact on the environment. Also, the surfaces must not interact with the dairy component to prevent untoward reactions detrimental to human health.
Packaging Material For Dairy Products
Plastics such as Polyester (PET), polyethylene (PE and HDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS) are derived from oil or biomass and are turned into flexible packaging and lightweight containers.
Plastics are the most common packaging material today since it provides excellent flexibility, lightness, strength, stability, and ease of sterilization. In addition, it does not affect food taste and quality since it is a protective barrier from external contamination.
Moreover, plastics are resistant to moisture and different temperatures and are convenient food storage and distribution options.
For example, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles are ideal for storing pasteurized milk, while pigmented PET bottles protect light-sensitive food, thereby preventing lipid oxidation. Even our favorite yogurt drink comes in HDPE bottles containing aluminum foil laminate heat-seal closures or dedicated PE-LD caps that allow for user convenience and portability.
Finally, the product deterioration rates of those kept in plastics are determined by factors such as permeability to O2, CO2, and vapor transmission rates in packaging films, which determine the atmosphere composition.
Our well-loved milk drinks use paper and board made from organic fibers derived from wood and other biomass sources. The sealability of paper-based packaging requires a combination of coatings, foils, wax, and other plastic material.
Milk cartons are usually made up of 75% paperboard, 21% polymers, and 4% aluminum. Also, this packaging allows you to store dairy products for up to 12 months without adding preservatives and refrigeration. On the other hand, papers are readily recycled with resultant fibers used for other applications in paper-based products.
It also leaves a low carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle. This option is best for drinkable fermented milk, liquid milk, cream, and other readily consumable dairy products.
The Glass used for milk storage and distribution has been around for a while. The component is made from sand, ash, limestone, and soda. It has an inert property that makes it safe for food and drinks.
The best part about glass is that it is 100% recyclable and can be used endlessly without quality or purity loss, as long as the content is adequately sealed. Furthermore, it utilizes a closed-loop recycling system which yields no additional waste or by-products.
Aluminum is more commonly known for making foils, closures, and containers. It also helps create flexible packaging materials used in laminates for paper and plastic.
The metal used for dairy product containers offers both strength and rigid impenetrability. As a result, manufacturers can fill it at a relatively high speed without content loss, thereby increasing overall efficiency.
Moreover, it is easy to handle and is a durable vessel. Other common uses of the material include cans for condensed milk and milk powders and aluminum foils for butter.
Custom Made Packaging
Innovations in food packaging practices have brought about custom-made containers. This is widely seen in and ideal for custom cheese packagings such as vacuum packets, retail pouches, and roll stock.
The best part of custom-made food packaging is that it allows easy marketing of offered dairy products such as cheese that markets your distinct brand and sets it apart from other competitors.
Additionally, it can accommodate needs specific to the dairy item and serve extra functions.
Dairy Packaging Sustainability
The majority of food packaging used today consists of unrecyclable plastics. This increases the accumulation of waste products, affecting the environment and its inhabitants in the long run.
Dairy packaging sustainability is a crucial component in the manufacturing industry. As a result, measures such as reducing container wall thickness and down-gauged flexible structures have been implemented by most companies delivering consumable goods.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
The demand for dairy products increases the burden of packaging wastes that ripple down to our oceans and landfills, affecting the complex ecosystem in nature.
The need to improve community awareness of the value of recycling influences the environment and future generations.
For example, materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the primary resin used for milk bottles, are constantly recycled in most recycling centers, making it an eco-friendly option that companies should utilize more.
The appropriate packaging material for dairy products depends on the content and storage conditions. It is equally vital to note that dairy is most susceptible to deterioration. Thus, it is essential to utilize innovative food packaging that preserves its quality until consumption.
The increased use of sustainable product packaging and intensive recycling efforts reduces carbon footprints created by mass plastic use for food storage and other applications.
It also allows for consumer empowerment and social responsibility, which will benefit future generations. Additionally, it helps improve operations on a larger scale and upholds the integrity of manufacturers.