Cats and Dogs are King!
Expert Interview: Trends in Pet Food Packaging. We spoke to Georg Buchinger, Head of Product Management, and Franz Planer, Technical Key Account Manager at the Processed Meat Business Unit of Constantia Flexibles.
Not only the sales numbers of pet food is soaring worldwide – also the quality is a key factor. As pets more and more become true members of families their food turns more gourmet, too. Constantia Flexibles is the world largest producer of aluminum foil containers for pet food packaging.
Constantia Flexibles: The times are over when leftovers were fed to the pets?
Georg Buchinger: That might not be true for everyone on this planet but we do see the rise of “gourmet food” and especially nicely packaged food for the beloved pets. Especially in first-world countries, where people have less kids, the pet becomes a very close member of the family and is a bit humanized in a sense that more money is spent on quality food as well as treats and also packaging.
Constantia Flexibles: What does that mean for you?
Georg Buchinger: First of all this means that our customers – big pet food producers worldwide – want to meet the demands of their customers and also the end consumers – the pets! The result is a diversified pet food portfolio with many different flavors and innovative treats and snacks that offer special features.
Franz Planer: To beat the competition, the product has to stand out on the shelf - new product configurations and innovative printing technologies are key to achieve this. Almost every one of our customers have a special gold nuance which only is applied to their aluminum foil containers to differentiate each other. The packaging is becoming more and more important to sell the product.
Constantia Flexibles: You just spoke about aluminum foil containers – those are the #1 choice for many pet food producers. How are these manufactured?
Franz Planer: The first stage of the production process is very special at Constantia Flexibles as we roll our own aluminum – that is something not many pet food packaging producers can offer. This means that the raw material aluminum is delivered to us and we put it through our rolling mills until the metal is as thin as we desire. The aluminum foil used for containers is usually only 50-160µm thin, which is a little as about 5 hairs put together.
In the next steps, a thin polymer film is applied as well as the lacquer – in our case mostly golden lacquer. After that the lid for the pet food packaging is sometimes printed with the motif and logo of the pet food manufacturer before we die cut them and box them to be shipped off to the customer.
Georg Buchinger: After the lids are almost finished it is time for their counterpart - the aluminum trays - to actually become containers that can hold food. To achieve this, the containers are “deep drawn” by feeding the aluminum reel into a machine with a stamp and die – which transforms the sheet into little containers.
Constantia Flexibles: What is the difference between pet food packaging and packaging for humans?
Franz Planer: At the first glance, they have much in common. They need to fulfil hygiene regulations where our aluminum containers get the job done perfectly, they need to be functional for the consumer and they have to guarantee that the product stays fresh for a longer time. But at a second glance pet food containers sometimes go beyond packaging for humans. Animals have very well developed senses and are more sensitive to smell than humans – therefor we sometimes have to alter the components like the lacquer or the polymer film for pet food containers that would have worked for humans.
Constantia Flexibles: Thank you both for the insights!
Learn more about Pet Food Packaging in our Video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/wFvbMvjLOy8