Food retailing has changed dramatically in the past decade and this is no truer than for the booming food delivery market. Once the domain of fast-food, pizza and selected cuisines from around the globe, food delivery now includes everything from coffee and desserts to breakfasts and fine dining.
Within the next ten years it is expected that the global online takeaway food market will be worth US$230 billion a year, expanding around 10% annually, propelled in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic and with ongoing growth driven by demand from emerging markets, higher internet penetration, increasing urbanization and a rise in the number of the working population1.
This booming sector provides food retailers new opportunities to reach customers with the right products. As such, it is creating strong demand for clean-looking, plastic packaging materials that are not only sustainable and transparent, but which can also withstand the rigors of handling and transportation.
Particularly important to the food delivery market, it is vital that packaging seals well to avoid leakage and is durable enough to avoid cracking and breaking in order to keep food safe from cross-contamination. People also buy with their eyes. Reflecting other studies, one American survey2 found that packaging design influences the purchasing decisions of 72% of consumers which means attractive packaging, that helps to make food look more appealing, can encourage repeat sales.
Due to its superior properties, polypropylene (PP) has emerged as a front runner for food packaging applications, in particular, PP modified with Milliken’s Hyperform® HPN® 68Li, that delivers a cleaner look whilst offering tough, lightweight packaging.
Suitable for applications including thin-wall injection molding (TWIM) Hyperform HPN 68Li also offers additional key benefits to converters. With its extremely fast crystallization speed, this high-performance additive helps injection molders to boost their productivity by accelerating cooling times and reducing cycle times.
Homopolymer polypropylene (HPP) resin formulated with Hyperform HPN 68Li reduces haze, yielding clear, aesthetically pleasing PP parts, also allowing materials to exhibit improved isotropic shrinkage and low or no warpage, contributing to better-quality end parts. This translates into better sealing and a reduced chance of leakage, a clear advantage for pre-packed (especially liquid) food, and over paper packaging.
Tests have shown how HPP with Hyperform HPN 68Li outperforms the same resin made with traditional nucleators. In one example, haze was reduced, the crystallization temperature was higher, the heat deflection temperature increased a few degrees, and melt flow rate remained high.
PP TWIM containers modified with Hyperform HPN 68Li also have multiple sustainability benefits. They are microwaveable, meaning food can be reheated, unlike most polystyrene, PET or paper packaging. PP can be recycled, also unlike these other materials, and TWIM packaging made from PP can be reused. In addition, the independent, global testing agency UL has certified that PP modified with Hyperform HPN 68Li delivers significant energy savings during the injection molding process, allowing users to display the UL Environmental Claim Validation label on the resulting products.
Having highly recyclable PP, that delivers significant energy savings and that performs so well in food packaging applications enhances sustainability by helping to reduce carbon emissions and the need for retail outlets to use plastic-coated paper boxes for their take-out food.
With these significant performance and sustainability advantages TWIM PP food containers, developed with Hyperform HPN 68Li, were recently rolled out in the Indonesian market.
They are replacing single-use packaging made from other materials, are microwaveable and freezer-safe as well as offering all the eco-benefits of PP packaging. It is hoped that these TWIM PP containers will reduce the use of plastic-coated paper boxes in the Indonesian food delivery market – helping to reduce deforestation by decreasing the use of paper-based single-use packaging.
With its growing range of Hyperform HPN high-performance additives, Milliken continues to help converters to improve their processing and enhance the performance of their final polypropylene parts, making a positive contribution to the future of delivery food packaging.