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Weidenhammer’s reinvention of the can on supermarket shelves Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst packed in PermaSafe

Weidenhammer Plastic Packaging, the relatively new plastics division of the Weidenhammer Packaging Group, introduced its world first PermaSafe concept at FachPack in 2007. As a "reinvention of the can," this innovative plastic packaging solution for sterilized and pasteurized food products is designed to compete with conventional glass jars and tinplate packaging. At the same time, PermaSafe offers more creative options for marketing processed foods. Parallel to FachPack 2009, the first product packed in PermaSafe was launched on the market: Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst will be selling its "Heideverführung" sausage specialty in a PermaSafe package. This new Müller’s product is primarily aimed at younger consumer groups. The innovative Weidenhammer packaging solution is a key element in the marketing concept.

PermaSafe is the first product to offer all of the advantages of plastic packaging in the processed foods market, which was previously dominated exclusively by glass jars and tin cans. In addition to many more creative options when it comes to package shape and design, PermaSafe offers consumers much more convenience. PermaSafe packaging is resealable, suitable for microwave ovens and ideal for foods packed in single portions. PermaSafe packaging is extremely lightweight and stackable for transport. This offers important advantages in terms of logistics, storage and disposal. Energy consumption for production and transport is lower compared to glass or metal packaging. PermaSafe is easy to recycle with no need to separate materials.

Special testing demonstrates sealing properties
PermaSafe packaging protects food just as reliably as glass jars or tin cans. "The biggest challenge in the development of the new packaging was to ensure the sealing properties and to retain the label brilliance in combination with the sterilization process," explains Weidenhammer Plastic Packaging Sales Director Andreas Rothschink. "In the meantime, special tests have demonstrated that PermaSafe packaging is extremely airtight and capable of ensuring the shelf life of packed foods." PermaSafe guarantees a minimum shelf life of 12 months.

Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst, a traditional company based in Ebstorf in the Lüneburger Heide region of Germany, was convinced by PermaSafe. "Our laboratory tests have shown that the new Weidenhammer packaging is fully equivalent to the conventional glass packaging we generally use," explains
Manuela Paul, Project and Marketing Manager at Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst. "This was the requirement that had to be met in order for us to actually use the new packaging." The contact with Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst was established at the last Interpack. According to Andreas Rothschink, "At the trade show we received initial requests from potential customers – including Müller’s Hausmacher Wurst." Specific plans for a joint development project were made in mid-2008. Weidenhammer then started developing the first PermaSafe prototype for Müller’s new "Heideverführung" product, a home-style sausage specialty that will be on supermarket shelves in mid-October 2009 in three flavors ("Chili," "Hopfen & Malz" and "Süßer Senf").

Brand new marketing options
The "Müller’s Heideverführung" package is an attractively labelled PermaSafe plastic tray with a capacity of 150 grams. The packaging features a recloseable easy-peel top. "With ‘Heideverführung’ we are moving in new directions and aiming at younger consumer groups," explains Manuela Paul. "Convenience and product quality are especially important for these target groups. We will be the first to market with this innovative package, which is a key element in our product and marketing concept."

End-to-end solution from a single source
Weidenhammer worked in close cooperation with Müller’s on the development of the new "Heideverführung" package. "The basic idea for the shape of the lid came from the customer," Rothschink explains. "We followed through with the further development stages, from the initial prototypes to the final package design." In order to ensure excellent sealing properties, Sealpac, a packaging machine manufacturer based in Oldenburg, Germany, was involved from the very beginning. Sealpac supported the entire PermaSafe development process. Jürgen Krause, Project Manager at Sealpac, explains: "Our job was to make a special sealing tool to close the test packages. This enabled us to conduct long-term benchmark testing of the product and its shelf life."

Active communication with Müller’s took place throughout the development process. "Weidenhammer customers can expect an end-to-end, custom-designed packaging solution from a single source: attractive, individualized, differentiated and convenient," says Rothschink. The look of the "Heideverführung" package is a delicacy in itself. Only the top part is printed; the lower section is transparent to provide a clear view of the product inside. The entire shell and the lid are decorated using high-quality inmould labelling (IML) technology – a specialty at Weidenhammer Plastic Packaging. The brilliance of the IML packaging is not affected by the actual preservation process. "Like with all standard canned foods, sterilization takes place directly in the PermaSafe package. We supply the ready-to-use package that is filled by the customer before the actual sterilization process takes place," Rothschink explains. "With standard plastic packaging, the colour quality would be negatively affected by the high temperatures involved in sterilization. This is not the case with PermaSafe. When it comes to package shape, size and format, customers have practically unlimited options."

In the case of Müller’s "Heideverführung" product, the package lid was designed in the shape of the Müller’s logo. Something that would have been out of the question with conventional glass or metal packaging. This characteristic design will enhance brand management at the point of sale in the future. "The "Heideverführung" package is ready-to-use and has an exceptionally high recall value," says Manuela Paul. "Thanks to the practical lid, the package is resealable so that the product remains in the package throughout the entire consumption cycle. Which means that our logo is always present on the consumer’s table."

Another feature makes the PermaSafe package an ideal image carrier. On the supermarket shelf, it bridges the gap between canned goods and fresh products. In terms of design, look & feel and convenience, the "Heideverführung" package resembles the plastic packaging that consumers are familiar with from the refrigerated section in the supermarket. But as a standard package for processed foods, PermaSafe is not restricted to the refrigerated shelves and can also be used for special promotional actions or secondary placements. Manuela Paul explains: "The new packaging enables us to appeal to young consumer groups who are generally more likely to buy fresh products."

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