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By: Varris Holmes, Marketing Manager
You may already know about aseptic beverage packaging and processing, but in case you are unfamiliar, we want to make you more aware of all its advantages compared to traditional packaging and processing approaches. Fact is, we are certain that you have seen aseptic packaging, been served something that was processed and packaged aseptically, and even used it in your own home. Our hope is that it is all of the above and that you are one of the many consumers or food service operators that love Orchard Splash™ Beverages — exclusively packed in aseptic packaging!
Think square or rectangle-shaped beverage packages instead of traditional round ones, such as bottles and cans. A revolutionary breakthrough, the aseptic process provides a superior finished product in a package that has tremendous cost-savings and environmental advantages versus PET, aluminum, glass, and other substrates. While growing, aseptic processing is not yet the leading format for beverage production.
More widely adopted internationally, in the United States you are much more likely to find (and have used) aseptic processed and packaged products from the soup/broth, kid’s juice box and alternative milk aisles. Aseptic production is a wonderful method that creates a shelf-stable product with a long shelf life, requiring no refrigeration before being opened.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at Aseptic
The aseptic process is a gentler sterilization process compared to hot-fill that helps preserve the look, taste and aroma of the fresh fruit raw materials that go into our fruit, juice, and tea-based beverages. Some of the primary advantages of the aseptic packaging process are:
- Food Safety – the ultra-high temperature (UHT) sterilization process ensures that the food is safe from harmful bacteria.
- Cleaner Label – sterilization process is so effective that preservatives do not need to be added.
- Protection of Nutritional Content – the finished food product contains more nutrients due to less heat damage compared to finished products filled through other processes.
The aseptic manufacturing process itself is more innovative, efficient, and effective which results in finished packaged products with some awesome features as well:
- Convenience – it is portable, light and can be made in so many shapes and sizes.
- No Refrigeration Required – saves energy in the transportation and storage of the food product.
- Low Packaging to Product Ratio – there is more than 90% food product to 10% package.
- Storage Efficiency – brick shapes are more efficient to pack in bulk than cans or jars – think of all the extra space surrounding cans, bottles and other cylinder-shaped products that does not contain product.
We’ve come a long way — here’s a quick timeline of aseptic processing and our role
Our company was founded in 1957 and early on demonstrated its interest in innovation and providing solutions by creating and launching Carbotrol®, the first juice-packed canned fruit in the US foodservice market. In 1997, the WH Leahy Company acquired Institutional Foods Packing and became Leahy-IFP. With this acquisition, we became a manufacturer of aseptic beverages, as well as an early adopter of this format and advocate for its utilization. And as strong proponents of this processing method, we are excited at the expanded role aseptic is playing today and committed to increasing awareness and usage of the format.
- In late 50’s, the food industry saw the advent of the use of paper-foil-plastic laminated containers called tetrahedron.
- In 1962, when they began selling pasteurized milk and beverages in these containers, Tetra Pak, a Swedish company, introduced this container to the United States market.
- In 1989, Leahy-IFP’s partner, SIG (a Swiss company originally founded in 1853), entered the field of aseptic carton liquid packaging—this business grew significantly, and was later known as SIG Combibloc. Due to the large capital investments required to produce aseptic products, only two major companies make the materials and equipment for this process: Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc.
- In 1997, Leahy-IFP establishes Midwest aseptic manufacturing footprint.
- In 2008, Leahy-IFP expands capabilities, opening West Coast aseptic manufacturing facility.
- In 2017, Leahy-IFP further expands Midwest and West Coast aseptic manufacturing facilities, doubling capacity.
- Today, we are further expanding our manufacturing footprint to fulfill increased demand.
Let’s Break It On Down!
Aseptic processing is comprised of two innovative components – the packaging itself and the processing/filling equipment.
The Inside Story on Aseptic Packaging
It all starts with what goes into making the sleeves that, in turn, our products go into. Check out these videos to see how it all comes together and SIG gets it done.