Glass voted as best packaging compound for infant nutrition

Whether juices, purées or baby food – there is a huge variety of food with many different flavours available for babies and infants. The standards governing safety and quality are high for baby food jars, and inspections are stringent. There are more than 1,000 baby food products available on the market. A product’s success does not always start with its contents but often with its packaging. After all, when it comes to their children’s health, parents like to play it safe.

The market research institute GfK was commissioned by the Aktionsforum Glasverpackung to survey a representative percentage of the German online population: “A baby is to be fed its first baby food. What do you think is the best packaging for baby food?”

The results of the survey are clear: 91.6% of those surveyed regard glass as the best packaging material while a mere 8.4% voted for plastic.

Glass is almost exclusively manufactured from mostly indigenous raw materials available in nature and can be recycled 100%. Accordingly, it protects the environment, the climate and health. As a result, glass packaging is regarded as one of the most sustainable types of packaging available on the market.

Babies and infants are extremely sensitive consumers who require protection. Baby food must therefore display a nutrition profile coordinated to their particular nutritional requirements. Requirements with regard to contamination or residue are also stricter here than in other areas of food. Consumers, and parents in particular, react particularly sensitively both in terms of quality and possible pollutants emanating from the packaging. Only the very best for their most sensitive consumers worthy of protection. And that also means no migration from packaging into baby food.

In the form of ACTGreen® PROVALIN® offered by Actega, sustainable compounds are available for glass jars with P/T seals. PVC and plasticisers are dispensed with entirely. The combination of carefully chosen thermoplastic elastomers is free of pollutants. This eliminates the risk of migration into food.

But to date, a distinction between PVC-free P/T seals and those containing PVC has not been possible as both sealing materials were white. In order to make it easy for parents to choose a PVC-free seal, this is now recognisable by its green sealing material.

In an effort to discover how parents react to the green sealing compound in the lids of baby food jars, Actega commissioned a consumer survey. Parents of children up to the age of four were surveyed in large cities in the north, west and south of Germany. They were initially presented with lids featuring white and green sealing rings, without any further information on their backgrounds. Even at this early stage, 51% of the test subjects favoured the green compound, while 29% had equal regard for the white and green sealing material. A mere 20% said the white compound was better.

After receiving information on the significance of the green sealing ring – free of PVC and plasticisers – the preference for the green sealing ring increased even further, with 80% finding the green ACTGreen® PROVALIN® seal better than the white PVC seal. Conversely, 15% had equal regard for the two colours with only 5% favouring the white seal.

Consumers explained that corresponding information on the packaging – free of PVC and plasticisers instead of PVC – would have a positive influence on purchasing decisions. They claim that all baby food jars sealed with seals free of PVC and plasticisers should in any case have a green seal in the lid. After all, a baby food product with a green seal would make them feel safer. Of those test subjects, 75% would prefer to buy products with a green seal.

Green is a consistent choice, with it being a particularly natural colour. Green is associated with health, the environment and harmlessness. Accordingly, a link is swiftly established for consumers to environmental and health topics making it perfect for the foodstuffs industry, which markets itself as environmentally-friendly or biological.

The Press-On Twist-Off® seals favoured for baby food represent a particular challenge. A synthetic compound is applied to the sides of the jar seal which deform in such a way that when the jar is sealed, threads are formed which interact with the thread elements of the jar. Unlike screw caps and cam screw caps, the basic body of the seal does not itself have any thread. The thread is exclusively formed by the polymer material in the sealing compound. Owing to the threads formed while exerting pressure on the jar lid, a twisting motion is required for removing the seal. The synthetic compound applied to the inside of the seal fulfils both a sealing and a retention function in the case of Press-on Twist-off® seals.

For this reason, it was also important to examine whether these seals not only stay tight but can also be easily opened. This was another component of the consumer survey. It transpired that baby food in glass jars also has a positive image in terms of opening properties. In fact, 99% indicated not having had any problems opening jars with ACTGreen® PROVALIN® seals and were very satisfied overall with how the jars were handled.