Plasticizers in PVC closures have many disadvantages. When they come into contact with oily and fatty foods they may migrate and thus can be deleterious to consumers’ health. In addition, there is the danger that when the packaging is incinerated, dioxins will be emitted. When Timm Reichold, the managing director of Feinkost Dittmann, learned of these facts in the mid-2000s, he knew immediately that his company’s gourmet foods packaged in glass jars needed closures with sealing compounds devoid of PVC. But there were no such alternatives at the time. Reichold needed an innovative partner.
He found one in ACTEGA DS. Ten years ago, the gourmet food manufacturer and the sealant specialist pooled their resources and were joined by the closure manufacturer Pano to form an unusual triad. The cooperation has set standards in the food packaging industry. Feinkost Dittmann, the market leader for gourmet delicacies in Germany, was the first company in its sector worldwide to introduce PVC-free closures for its products. “As a family-owned business, we want to guarantee our customers maximum product safety,” says Reichold, explaining his motivation. “In addition, we have a special responsibility to protect the environment.”
Such innovative closures have been made possible by Provalin. Under this brand name, ACTEGA DS sells thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that can be used to manufacture PVC-free and thus plasticizer-free sealing compounds for glass jar lids.
Consumers recognize this from the blue seal inside the lid. Provalin is suitable for both hot and cold filling of foods. Moreover, it can withstand the high temperatures that arise during sterilization and pasteurization. Last but not least, it guarantees that no undesired substances migrate from the TPE into the food over a longer period. Hence Provalin is ideal for packaging oily and fatty foods such as olives and antipasti.
ACTEGA DS marketed the first PVC-free sealants back in the 1980s, albeit for bottle caps. “The cooperation with Feinkost Dittmann was a tremendous opportunity to optimize our TPE development for application in vacuum screw closures,” says Wilfried Lassek, the managing director of ACTEGA DS. “That was a key milestone in our sustainable product development.”
Provalin not only had to prove itself under the different production conditions of different bottling plants. In addition, the material had to be durable enough to last for up to 36 months.
“ALTANA’s top priority is to give our customers a competitive advantage with our products, enabling them to have an edge in their markets. This can lead to lasting success if we can combine this goal with advantages for consumers and the environment. This ambition paid off in our cooperation with Feinkost Dittmann. It’s an important milestone in the advancement of our thermoplastic elastomers under the brand name Provalin.”
Wilfried Lassek, ACTEGA
The partners needed around six years for the development work. The debut came in 2011: the first antipasti jar with Provalin. Since then, Feinkost Dittmann has gradually converted the closures of its entire range of products to accommodate the innovative sealant. The method had to be adapted to all kinds of lid sizes. This process is now almost complete. In 2014, the gourmet product manufacturer sealed 86 million jars with the blue seal. The innovation met with a tremendous response in the industry. Experts rewarded the partners’ commitment with the German Packaging Prize 2011. Consumers were also thrilled. A study found that eight of ten consumers buy gourmet food closed with the blue seal.
The innovation met with a tremendous response in the industry. Experts rewarded the partners’ commitment with the German Packaging Prize 2011. Consumers were also thrilled. A study found that eight of ten consumers buy gourmet food closed with the blue seal. “Provalin offers us a real competitive edge,” says Reichold.
“Thanks to ALTANA, we are living up to our responsibility for consumers. With the PVC-free closure, we guarantee them maximum product safety.”
Timm Reichold, Feinkost Dittmann