Barrier films are an integral part of food packaging solutions, especially in thin plastic-based products. Because the overall success of food packaging depends on the efficacy of barrier films, it’s critical to select the right type of film for your specific application. In order to do so, several variables should be kept in mind.
Firstly, it’s important to consider the oxygen transfer rate (OTR), a measurement of the amount of oxygen that a film allows to pass through it. In most food packaging applications, the less oxygen the better, so high barrier films are a popular choice; they have an oxygen permeability of 10cc or less.
Other important factors include film gauge, clarity, and barrier level, as well as the type of food product being packaged and whether other features — such as UV protection or odor prevention — may be required. You’ll also want to consider the necessary converting process to determine how easy it will be to cut the film and bond edges.
High Barrier Films for Food Packaging
There is a wide range of high barrier films available, each offering unique benefits for various types of food products.
The highly flexible ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier film, for instance, is ideal for fish, poultry, and meat packaging, as it has an OTR of only 0.6cc/m2 and can be used as a substrate or as independent packaging material.
Polyester (PET), a high-performing film is used as a laminating substrate. It provides an excellent oxygen barrier, durability, and heat resistance. When laminated onto certain other materials, it also provides a strong water barrier and UV protection.
Coating PET film with a soft saran laminate creates KPET, a laminate for use on other films. It has strong gas, moisture, and vapor properties, making it ideal for use in flexible food packaging for dry goods, very odiferous goods, and goods that are sensitive to absorbing other odors.
Nylon, meanwhile, is specifically designed to be cooked or microwaved, as it has high strength and a very high melting point. Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) has high clarity and a very high OTR — as high as 2500cc/m2 — making it ideal for flexible fresh produce food packaging. Finally, polypropylene — a clear, high barrier flexible film for food packaging — features good moisture barrier and high OTR.
These films represent only a small number of the many high barrier films available. Various combinations of these options are also offered.
The Case for High Barrier Films
Versatile and reliable, high barrier films within the food packaging industry are rapidly growing in popularity.
In 2015, global food packaging demand for packaging film was approximately 17 million tons; of those 17 million tons, 1.4 million of them were high barrier films for food packaging. In total, 8% of all flexible food packaging was comprised of or included high barrier films. These numbers are expected to increase steadily over time.
Additional Food Packaging Resources
Plastic Ingenuity has been offering high-quality packaging solutions, including high barrier films for food packaging, for more than 45 years. Our Cross Plains-based facility proudly maintains the ISO 9001 and SQF Level Three certifications.
Learn more about the leading method of packaging within the food industry by downloading our eBook, “Avoid Food Spoilage with HPP Packaging.”