This year’s Tokyo Pack was a reminder that packaging is a big deal in Japan and has its own unique twists, very different from what we produce here in Australia.
They seem to have a lot more packaging, but it’s lightweight and caters for much smaller portions. It’s not unusual to find a single piece of sushi or one shitake mushroom packaged in its own thermoformed base and lid.
The show was staged across six halls, showcasing covering materials, materials handling, packaging automation and packaging design.
As an interesting comparison, while we package sandwich wedges in either expensive cardboard or cheaper clear plastic clams, the Japanese wrap theirs in clear BOPP. This lightweight option is really something we should look to adopt in Australia. As well as the cost savings, there are additional environmental benefits and it may just require us to look at our logistics a little differently.
Presentation is very important to the Japanese, so there was a lot of emphasis on graphics, artwork and textures of materials.
Two innovations that stood out for me included:
- Laser printing on the inside of flexible films from the outside! This replaces the more common inkjet printing which can pose a contamination risk and rubs off easily during transport. How many times have you struggled to see an expiry date because it’s been rubbed off?
- Barrier alternatives to expensive EVOH layers in laminated sheet. When laminating sheet for MAP packaging, instead of using EVOH as a barrier – which must be enveloped between two other substrates – the Japanese have developed a barrier “glue”. This can have the same properties as EVOH and instead of laminating PET sheet with a combination of “ “PET-PE-EVOH-PEH”, you simply laminate “PET (Barrier Glue) PE”.