Chipping in to find sustainable packaging for chips

Author: Lena Barner-Rasmussen

Chipping in to find sustainable packaging for chips

Less fat but more taste, and sustainably packaged. Snacks producer Linkosuo opted for fibre-based packaging for their new hit product: chips made out of rye and oats.

Our busy lifestyles can be seen in a surge in the demand for different snacks and food on the go. Finnish snacks producer Linkosuo, known for its delicious dry rye breads and snacks, has answered to this demand by introducing a healthier alternative to potato chips: wafer thin chips made out of rye and oats.
“This is a snack you can enjoy without feeling bad about it”, says Suvi Urvikko-Mäkivaara, Development Director at Linkosuo.

Although Linkosuo’s rye and oat chips contain about 50% less fat than other alternatives on the market, such as traditional potato chips, there is still 15% fat in the crackers to make them tasty. Fat always brings an extra challenge when it comes to the packaging. Aluminum or plastic would traditionally be the go-to option. Linkosuo, however, wanted a fibre-based solution suitable for recycling.

That means that over 50% of the packaging material needs to be fibre-based. “We contacted Finnish packaging company Peltolan pussi and Walki, and together we tried to wrap our heads around how to come up with a packaging that would not only keep the product fresh despite a relatively long shelf time, but also be sustainable from an environmental point of view”, says Urvikko-Mäkivaara.

Solid experience from recyclable food packaging

Heikki Lumme and Henri Torkkola at Walki happily accepted the challenge. “We have been working hard during the last years to help our customers shift to fibre-based packaging, so we already had a pretty good idea of what was needed”, says Heikki Lumme, Business Line Manager for Packaging at Walki.

Walki and Peltolan Pussi go a long way back, having collaborated on several customer cases together.

The demands on the Linkosuo pouch were complex. It had to be air and aroma-tight to hinder the chips from going bad or losing their taste. In addition to this, the pouch needed to protect the chips from light and humidity. And then the pouch had to look good in order to appeal to customers and also be functional, that is easy to open without tearing for instance.

Due to the fat content, the fibre-based package still had to have a relatively high barrier to keep the chips crisp and fresh.
"We opted for a layer structure, where we combine a high barrier with a good seam layer, to make the pouch as airtight as possible and hinder the fat from leaking”, explains Henri Torkkola, Technical Sales and R&D Manager at Walki.

Different combinations were tested on Walki’s production line in order to find the optimal mix.
“We used a special form of plastics in the seam layers that makes it possible to decrease the share of plastics without compromising the seam integrity.”

Brand owners and consumers are interested in sustainable packaging

Hindering the food content from going bad is the first priority. But right behind comes sustainability.

Eventually the team landed on the right combination, where the use of plastics is decreased by over 40%. Over 50% of the pouche’s material is fibre-based, which makes it suitable for recycling in the Nordic and some other European countries. Linkosuo exports to Sweden, Germany, Russia and the Baltic countries.

Although recycling policies are not yet harmonized in all of Europe, consumers’ interest in sustainable packaging is.
“Consumers in all our geographical markets are keen on sustainable pouches where the plastic component is minimized”, says Urvikko-Mäkivaara from Linkosuo.

Heikki Lumme confirms that also brand owners are increasingly interested in reducing the use of plastics in food packaging.
“Although the packaging becomes slightly more expensive with sustainable materials, both brand owners and end consumers still feel it’s worth it”, he says.

There has been a lot of talk about switching to sustainable packaging for several years now.
“During this year we finally saw that the talk is turning in to action”, Lumme says.

So now we can devour chips that are not only on the healthier side but also sustainably packaged.

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