Pure Packaging for a Pure Product

Bremen – There are many descriptions for honey, which is regarded as one of the purest foods around. Unlike sugar, it has the advantage of having numerous substances that help the human body to digest the sugar it contains. It helps to heal wounds, has an antibacterial effect, protects the body’s cells and renews them. Inflamed gums can be alleviated by honey while it can also relieve the symptoms of colds by clearing the sinuses and reducing coughs. Honey is also regarded as a beauty and anti-ageing product.

In Germany, around 1.2 kilos of honey are consumed per capita each year (courtesy of a million hives). For approximately 300 grams of honey, each individual bee is obliged to leave the hive around 20,000 times, flying from blossom to blossom to collect nectar. After visiting approximately 1,500 blossoms, it returns heavily-laden with a sweet load to the hive where it passes its treasure on to a colleague, the so-called house bee. As it sets off on its homeward flight, the nectar begins its exciting transformation into honey as the bee enriches it with valuable substances such as enzymes. Inside the hive, the bees extract more water from the nectar and store the honey drop by drop in the honeycomb, which they cover with a fine layer of wax. And then the beekeeper uses centrifuges to eject the honey, before filtering it, passing it through a sieve and pouring it into jars.

A product as pure as this requires equally pure packaging. Choosing glass as a container is a good solution. It satisfies all requirements that packaging should focus on, i.e. maintaining both the intrinsic quality of food and extrinsic demands on quality. Glass therefore complies with one of the more pressing tasks of guaranteeing both shelf life and toxicological safety by minimising interactions between the packaging material and the food contained therein. For some years now, this has also applied for the glass closure, the metal lid, by preventing migration from the lid sealants into the contents. What was already solved decades ago for the beverages industry is also possible for wide-mouth closures and therefore for glass jars. Using TPE technology originally developed by Actega DS for crown corks and aluminium closures, it has been possible to close an essential gap in the elimination of PVC from packaging coming into contact with food.

In the form of PROVALIN®, the market offers a closure sealant compound free of PVC and phthalates that complies with all EU guidelines and guarantees maximum food safety. The various models mean that there are suitable solutions available for all food packaged in jars and bottles – including for honey.

One company relying on this closure solution is represented by Europe’s largest importer of organic honey, Walter Lang GmbH, whose roots extend back to 1895 when honey was first imported to its location in Bremen. Walter Lang GmbH evolved from Walter Lang Honigimport GmbH in 2008 and specialises in the production, manufacture and distribution of organic honey. As an organic pioneer, Walter Lang delivered his first home-centrifuged honey to regional organic stores more than 40 years ago and was involved in developing the guidelines governing ecological beekeeping more than 30 years ago. Today, its employees pass on their experience concerning sustainable, biological and resource-conserving production to beekeepers in the honey-producing countries on each continent of the globe. Of the eight million kilos of honey that are on average imported every year, around 85 per cent is accounted for by organic honey. Additionally, the “Walter Lang-Spezialitätenhonige” brand featuring 35 selected blends has been sold since 2013.

In its state-of-the-art production facilities, Walter Lang GmbH avails of one of the most modern filling and packaging plants in Europe, where a modern filler slowly doses the honey into the jars. The jars are then PVC-free sealed with PROVALIN® and labelled. This also goes well with the company’s philosophy in which major attempts are always made to trigger as little environmental impact as possible during manufacture, packaging and storage of the products.

Karin Lang, Dipl-Ing. Food technology, QMB, Walter Lang GmbH and Sonnentracht GmbH, Bremen: “We have been filling organic honey specialities into glass jars for the organic food trade since 1974. As an organic pioneer, we have always attached maximum importance to the selection of blends and their unique flavour, as well as the naturalness of our honey varieties. But we regard the suitability and handling features of packaging material to be of equal importance to product quality. In the Blue Seal lid, we are now using a migration-free compound for our twist-off lids enabling us to promote our products as having “PVC-free packaging”. This is a decisive improvement for environmentally-conscious consumers concerned with sustainability. Meanwhile, we now fill more than 24 million jars and PET bottles in the private label sector each year, enabling us to satisfy our customers’ high demands. We are delighted with this innovative development by Actega which – like us – has its headquarters in Bremen thereby making an active contribution toward a clean environment.”