Cougar Package Designers, West Chicago, has formed an alliance with ARPAC-Hefestus USA to market a line of modified-atmosphere packaging equipment in the U.S.
The key component of the ARPAC-Hefestus Hera technology — at least when it comes to the fresh produce industry — is that the atmosphere packaging system is vacuumless, so it’s gentler on delicate perishables.
“The atmosphere we put into the packaging is injected at a fairly precise angle between the tray and film. That causes the current atmosphere to be flushed out,” Cougar president Mark Cottone said, comparing the system to the process of sucking cigarette smoke out of a car by cracking a window. “It creates a flow inside the packaging that lets new gases in and old gases out.”
Because the film rests only about three millimeters above the tray contents, Cottone said the film settles, clamps down and gently seals the product.
“If you put a watermelon in a packaging system with a vacuum, it’s not going to be too kind to that watermelon,” Cottone said.
Cottone said the system, which will become part of Cougar’s Spiritus Food Packaging Solution, uses 90% less power than conventional packaging systems, is faster, uses less gas and is easier to maintain.
“We’re just now building the first U.S. models,” Cottone said. “It’s been in Europe 3-4 years now. I’ve never seen anything create more excitement in our industry than this.”