Mist opportunities for spray cans – pressurized containers for food

Rick Lingle

Mist opportunities for spray cans

When walking down a supermarket aisle, your attention may not be riveted by a can of Boyle Midway’s Pam or by RJR Nabisco’s Easy Cheese. These spray products have become standard supermarket fare, as familiar as a can of Campbell soup.

However, would a spray can of peanut butter catch your eye?

That’s one of the product possibilities for pressurized containers that should revitalize the category, thanks to new advancements.

The category definitely needs a boost. According to the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Assoc. (CSMA), 140 million pressurized food products were packed in 1987, a 2.9% increase over 1986. That, however, follows a 3% decline the year before. In fact, the market for the past 10 years has been flat.

“Technology is coming into existence that will make the aerosol area, and spray food products, grow very rapidly over the next decade,” says the national aerosols sales manager for a major container supplier. “The market opportunities are unlimited.”

The growth, he says, will be due to food formulations that are compatible with piston-type and bag-in-can systems; the packaging of viscous food products into dispensing containers “will have a tremendous impact.”

Three such viscous products, which made their U.S. debut at last year’s East Pack show, were entered in Gorman’s 1988 Foodservice New Products Contest. These were shelf-stable spray dispensers of Le Ketchup, Forte de Dijon, and Pomo Doro tomato concentrate (in photo) from Claude Vetillard. All three scored well with contest judges, who admired the European products’ innovative packaging.

“Packaging and product concept have a lot of merit,” noted one judge. “Unique packaging…appeals for the future,” said another. A third judge liked the products’ dispenser “which is easy to operate, has a nice covering tab, and is economical in using the last bit of product.” (dispenser can be seen in photo). Judges remarked favorably on the products’ sanitary benefits that helps keep the product in “top-notch condition.”

Too much foodservice appeal?

One “drawback”: A judge felt that the product’s high appeal may motivate foodservice patrons to take it home. This foodservice negative turns positive for a retail product.

The products use GrowPak bag-in-can technology. The GrowPak is environmentally friendly, requires no propellant so it sprays pure product, and works equally well regardless of the orientation of the container. Delivery comes by way of a controlled reaction between citric acid with sodium bicarbonate to form carbon dioxide. This reaction occurs inside an expandable pouch kept separate from the food component.

The latest GrowPak offering, also from Europe, is Nappi chocolate topping (shown in photo).

More introductions are imminent. The supplier, working with food companies, is conducting shelf-life studies of the following products: fruit juice, peanut butter, and applesauce. The company expects commercialization for some of these products this year and, notably, they will debut here in the United States.

Works like a boa

Another method, used in the Exxel container, makes use of the constricting property of rubber once it is stretched. Essentially, a special rubber tube is forced around a crimped, thin-walled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) form; this is then placed inside another container, which is usually made of plastic.

Product is piston-filled, expanding the PET bottle against the rubber tube. When the actuator button is depressed, the rubber tube contracts and forces out pure product. This method enables dispensing of aerosol and viscous products from any angle.

The company acknowledges that the Exxel container targets non-commodity, higher margin products. In Japan, a short-term preservative for spraying on raw fish is packed in a 7-oz. Exxel container. Potential markets: cheeses and exotic pastes such as marzipan.

If desired, the containers can be sterilized by electron beam methods prior to filling.

Since the exterior shape is independent of the inner mechanism, the container can take on exotic forms. A muscle relaxant, Sportas You, appears in Japanese markets as a clear, football-shaped container.

Packagers are exploring another concept: Edible Whip Technology. EWT is described as an aerosol foam that can deliver, in whipped form, products containing up to 50% solids. The marketer, currently pushing pharmaceutical applications, plans to emphasize foods the second half of this year. Initial products may include lower-calorie mayonnaise alternatives, cheese whips containing 35% real cheese, and a spray topping to make coffee cappucino.

More bag-in-can systems

At the 1987 Interpack trade show in Dusseldorf, West Germany, a supplier launched the Bi-Can, a compartmented pack suitable for viscous and runny products. It can dispense a product as a spray, jet, foam or stream. Operation of the valve dispenses the product as a nylon bag collapses under pressure from the propellant. It is said to be applicable for sauces, syrups, spreads, and other food products. The pack is filled by metering product into a prepositioned bag, evacuating the air, and then affixing a valve. Propellant (liquid or compressed gas) is injected into the space between the bag and the container through a base hole that is then sealed.

Similarly, the Sepro Can bag-in-can system is also designed to handle more viscous types of products. The system separates the product, which is contained in a pleated bag, from the gas propellant.

Sunny outlook

Until now, most new spray food products originated in Europe. The CSMA’s Evelyne McFeaters agrees, feeling that Europeans are more willing to accept new packaging concepts. McFeaters believes that foods in mousse forms, like a refrigerated chocolate mousse now in limited national distribution, will be a success here.

Chocolate mixes and flavorings have been around for years, but Keldin (Philadelphia) found a new marketing angle using an aerosol container. Last June, Keldin began marketing chocolate-flavored Magic Shakes. The powerful, confined product stream creates an instant chocolate milk shake.

New spray products will soon hit the marketplace. It’ll be interesting to see how consumers respond to products like spray applesauce and spray peanut butter. At the very least, these spray products should slow consumers down during their rapid trip through the supermarket aisle. At best, one or more could become a spray can standard like Pam. In any case, food companies are ensuring there will be no more missed opportunities for products in convenient spray cans.


PHOTO : Steel cans are used in 85% of all aerosols. Other technology enables dispensing of more viscous products.

PHOTO : Products in pressurized containers include old standards like whip toppings, cheese spreads, and vegetable oils, and new products such as a tomato paste.

COPYRIGHT 1989 Business News Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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