Green Giant creates new twist on microwavable packaging

Brand owner B&G Foods and vendor Sonoco expound on the breakthrough packaging for Green Giant Veggie Spirals, an all-in-one PrimaPak bowl/bag/carton/tray packaged on f/f/s machinery.


As a new kind of food product in a new kind of packaging, Green Giant Veggie Spirals from B&G Foods, Inc., Parsippany, NJ, takes a big stride in packaged convenience.

The frozen foods are made of 100% vegetables without sauces or seasonings, and each variety is gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, low calorie and offers from 65-90% fewer carbohydrates than traditional pasta. The products will be available in zucchini, carrots and butternut squash varieties when introduced in early 2018.

Notably, the Spirals are packed in a first-of-a-kind microwavable PrimaPak that’s a custom twist on the patented PrimaPak packaging that just debuted earlier this year for Perfetti Mentos flavored mints. However, the 12-oz package requirements for this application, the first for a frozen food, were far more challenging.

The versatile PrimaPak technology, produced by a joint venture that included Sonoco Flexible Packaging is a kind of all-in-one, semi-rigid rectangular packaging that acts as a bowl while replacing a bag and or a carton traditionally used for frozen microwavable packaging found across different products and categories in the frozen foods aisle. It is a convenient-for-consumers heat-and-serve format that does not require additional dishes and is resealable. The PrimaPak is produced on modified form/fill/seal machinery.

Jordan Greenberg, vp of Green Giant, and Roman Forowycz, CMO of supplier Sonoco Elk Grove (formerly Clear Lam Packaging, Inc.), part of Sonoco Flexible Packaging, provide answers to Packaging Digest’s questions about the innovative packaging.

Tell us about PrimaPak packaging.

Greenberg: The proprietary PrimaPak packaging is designed to replace older forms of packaging such as bag-in-box, stand-up pouches, pillow bags, chipboard cartons or rigid trays. The patented technology produces a rectangular, flexible, stackable package that provides six crisp panels for maximum graphics coverage. As a leader in the frozen vegetable category, the Green Giant brand selected PrimaPak for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals because of its ground-breaking and patented next generation hybrid form. We believe the single-serve consumer meal innovation provided by the PrimaPak packaging will enhance the Green Giant brand’s leadership position in the frozen category.


What are the key benefits of this format?

Greenberg: PrimaPak packaging is stackable and enhances cube efficiency throughout the supply chain allowing for more packages on a truck, in a warehouse and on the store shelf.

PrimaPak packaging is flexible as it is made from a single roll of flexible film that is a suitable lightweight replacement for preformed cans, bottles, jars and trays.

It’s convenient and can be used as a single-use bowl or a multi-serving dish with an intuitive peel/reseal opening allowing for easy ingredient blending and quick microwave heating.

What are the advantages of having a flexible package that stands upright?

Greenberg: The PrimaPak is designed to stand up on end, providing a perfect and consistent facing every time.  Retailers appreciate the enhanced merchandising capabilities of PrimaPak packaging over bags and pouches that typically fall down and look messy on store shelves.

What’s notable about the Green Giant PrimaPak from your view?

Forowycz: It’s a first-of-its-kind, cubed package designed for steam cooking in the microwave. As such, the Green Giant PrimaPak was a completely custom design developed to handle veggie spirals or noodles and to merchandise much more effectively in retail cases while providing a consumer-friendly opening and reclosing option. Formed as a rectangular to allow it to be more space efficient, the unique shape also allows it to act as a serving dish. Consumers can open and remove the label providing full view of the product and enjoy the benefit of “selectability.”


What’s the film structure?

Forowycz: PrimaPak film structures vary depending on the product being packaged (other examples seem below). Some require higher oxygen barrier, and in those cases ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) may be included. Others may require higher moisture barrier. The Green Giant film structure is a multilayer lamination that also includes a reclosable front panel.

Tells us about the peel-and-reseal, easy opening front panel.

Greenberg: The peel/reseal front panel label functions with an easy-open pull tab that incorporates a tamper-evident feature.  When opened, consumers gain a full view of the product, get easy access to spirals, can add additional ingredients, reseal the label and microwave cook in minutes. The PrimaPak containers for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals have incorporated steam venting on the top panel that is clearly marked for safety reasons.


Please explain the statement that this packaging “uses less plastic compared to traditional trays.” 

Greenberg: PrimaPak containers for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals are made from a single roll of flexible film that are formed on a specially outfitted vertical form-fill-seal packing machine. They serve as a suitable lightweight replacement for preformed cans, bottles, jars and trays, with weight savings of 20%-65%.


Is PrimaPak referenced on the package? 

Greenberg: Yes, consumers are referred to a Sonoco Elk Grove website link for information about the PrimaPak.


How did B&G Foods hear about PrimaPak?

Greenberg: B&G Foods’ co-manufacturing partner, Growers Express, presented the PrimaPak packaging to B&G Foods during the development of Green Giant Veggie Spirals.  Nearly six months’ development and negotiations between Growers Express and Clear Lam Packaging led to this packaging format that’s exclusive to frozen cut vegetables in North America.


Please tell us more about Grower Express’s f/f/s machine.

Forowycz: The PrimaPak equipment is made by licensed vertical f/f/s machine manufacturer Ilapak with a cubing interface from Sonoco Elk Grove. 


What was the biggest packaging-related challenge? 

Greenberg: That was the technical development of complimentary materials and adhesives that would survive a cold and wet packing environment which led directly into a spiral freezer, a sub-zero cold chain that was ultimately microwave cooked reaching content ingredient temperatures that could exceed 165°F.

Forowycz: The microwave temperature range was definitely a challenge. Other challenges included the need for the packaging to fold and seal effectively while keeping its shape to enhance merchandising.



Hungry for fresh ideas in packaging? Attend MinnPack in Minneapolis November 8-9 that’s part of a comprehensive all-in-one 6-event plastics and advanced manufacturing exhibition. For more information, visit MinnPack.


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Concerned about risk in your sterile barrier system? Consider your adhesive coating

Successful aseptic presentation of medical devices can be impacted by package design and material selection. Adhesive coatings can have an impact, reports Oliver Healthcare Packaging.

“Adhesives can mitigate the risk of substrates tearing and delaminating, which can inhibit the ability of the clinician to present the sterile device in an aseptic manner,” explains Kevin Zacharias, technical director for Oliver. “Tearing and delamination of substrates may also introduce particulate. Adhesive coatings can also be more forgiving in a sealing process, making up for tooling or equipment short comings and other issues. Lastly, adhesive coatings offer a controlled, smooth package opening experience for the clinician.”

Zacharias and Rick Brady, technology manager for Oliver Healthcare Packaging, will be speaking about adhesives in the upcoming Webcast, “Adhesive Tips & Tricks Every Medical Packaging Engineer Should Know,” on Thursday, October 19.

Zacharias says that industry trends toward “clean packaging” could influence packaging engineers’ choice of packaging suppliers, materials, and adhesives. “There is an increased focus on clean packaging and low particulate in the industry, and a continued trend to low-risk packaging in general,” he explains. “When we say low-risk packaging, we mean high-performing adhesives that offer wide sealing windows with supportive data related to sterilization and stability.” More robust data packages are needed more than in the past, he says.

In addition, the industry “is also looking for excellent seal performance characteristics in relation to the rigors of sterilization and transportation with consistent performance within the validated sealing process window,” he adds. “A lot of focus is around demonstrating a robust sterile barrier system that maintains sterility to the point of use.”

Above: SealScience is a water-based adhesive. Image courtesy Oliver Healthcare Packaging.

In the webcast, Oliver will be addressing real-world customer challenges and how adhesive coatings were able to help.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Formulation: How adhesive coatings used in sterile barrier packaging are formulated.
  • Substrates & applications: Understand the processes used to apply adhesives to substrates like DuPont Tyvek, medical-grade paper, films, and foils.
  • Risk mitigation: Where an issue is most likely to occur and how issues can be avoided.
  • Case studies: Learn about real-world issues related to adhesive coating technology and how those problems were solved.

Some common questions to be addressed include:

When is a water-based or a hot-melt adhesive best?

How do you mitigate any risk involved in sterilization and transportation?

Be sure to join us October 19 at 11:00 AM PST | 2:00 PM EST for “Adhesive Tips & Tricks Every Medical Packaging Engineer Should Know.

For more information on SealScience water-based adhesive or Xhale hot-melt adhesive, visit

Oliver Healthcare Packaging will also be exhibiting at MD&M Minneapolis in Booth #1819 November 8-9, 2017. 


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USDA sets new labeling disclosures for bio-engineered foods

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law—signed into law on July 29, 2017—directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop regulations and standards to create mandatory disclosure requirements for bio-engineered foods by July 2018. Recent developments include input from stakeholders on how the mandatory disclosure requirements should be structured and the release of a study on electronic disclosure.

Even though USDA is responsible for promulgating the labeling and disclosure requirements, the practical scope of the law covers all food products, but ironically enough, excludes fresh meat, poultry and egg products, as well as processed products in which meat, poultry and eggs are the primary ingredients. Traditionally, USDA jurisdiction resides over exactly those products, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having authority over the other products.

Under the new law, food companies have three options to disclose genetically modified (GM) ingredients:

1. The use of on-package text;

2. A USDA-created symbol;

3. An electronic link—that is, a quick-response (QR) code printed on the package that directs customers to GM information.

A small food manufacturer may provide a telephone number or internet website where consumers can obtain additional information instead of these three options.

In addition, USDA was directed to conduct a study by July 29, 2017, to identify “potential technological challenges that may impact whether consumers would have access to the bioengineering disclosure through electronic or digital disclosure methods.”

On Aug. 25, 2017, public interest group Center for Food Safety, which has repeatedly expressed concerns that electronic communications will not provide disclosure to a large portion of Americans, filed a lawsuit alleging that USDA violated the Administrative Procedures Act because it “failed to publicly release the study, or provide for public comment on it.” Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, on Sept. 6, 2017, USDA release the mandated study (the Study of Electronic or Digital Link Disclosure). 

The study found that the majority of Americans own a smartphone (77%), with ownership rates trending upward, and that most Americans live in areas with sufficient broadband access (93.6%) to scan a digital link to access bioengineering food disclosure information.

However, the study also found that consumers lack familiarity with scanning. For example, 85% of consumers experience technical challenges using certain mobile software applications (apps) for scanning digital links. Another potential problem is that scanning digital links requires access to the internet and not all consumers have access to cellular data or local Wi-Fi networks and only 37% of small retailers currently provide Wi-Fi to consumers in store.


USDA receives public input

This past June, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) posted a list of 30 questions to obtain stakeholder input to facilitate the drafting of mandatory disclosure requirements. The questions ranged from ones concerning terminology and definitions to ones on disclosures, exemptions and compliance. Responses to the questions were due by Aug. 25, 2017.

USDA has not yet posted the comments it received; however, several organizations have posted the comments they submitted in response to USDA’s questions. Not surprisingly, opinions vary on how the requirements should be structured. For example, opposing opinions were expressed on the question: “Will AMS require disclosure for food that contains highly refined products, such as oils or sugars derived from bioengineered crops?”

Among the organizations responding that disclosure should be required were the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), the International Dairy Foods Assn. (IDFA) and the Consumers Union. Noting that excluding highly refined ingredients (HRI) from the scope of the mandatory disclosure standard would result in roughly 80% fewer products being subject to the disclosure requirements under the federal law, GMA wrote, “A clear, simple, and consistent mandatory disclosure standard that includes HRI will assist manufacturers in educating consumers about biotechnology as a safe and beneficial method of plant breeding.”

In contrast, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) are opposed to mandatory disclosure of HRI. BIO further stated that the term “highly refined products” should be replaced with “refined ingredients,” since the terms “highly processed” or “highly refined” typically refer to “multi-ingredient mixtures processed to the extent that they are no longer recognizable as their original plant/animal source,” rather than a single isolated food component, such as sugar or oil.

A full list of the questions can be found on the AMS-USDA website.

As USDA moves forward with the development of mandatory disclosure requirements for bio-engineered foods, there will be a number of challenges to overcome. These include concerns about consumers’ ability to access information through electronic or digital links, diverse opinions on how the requirements should be structured, and the potential impact on consumer buying and eating habits. 


Author George Misko is a partner at Keller and Heckman. Founded in 1962, the respected law firm has a broad practice in the areas of regulatory law, litigation and business transactions, serving both domestic and international clients. Reach him at


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