Mars Africa soup

Mars Africa reduces carbon footprint with packaging breakthrough for Royco soups

Mars Africa has come up with an innovative green packaging solution for its Royco instant soup range, eliminating foil and effecting a 25% reduction in its packaging carbon footprint and substantial energy savings.

The breakthrough, a first for dry soup powder packaging in South Africa, is the culmination of two years of R&D to find a non-foil, flexible packaging solution for Royco dry instant and packet soups, and is the result of a collaborative effort by Mars Africa’s R&D and commercial departments, its engineering associates and their packaging partners, Afripack and Mondi Extrusion Coatings.

“It is most rewarding to have been part of this collaborative effort with such innovative partners and that our Extrusion Coatings plant in Zeltweg, Austria, could contribute towards the development of this state-of-the-art solution for the packaging industry,” says Michael Strobl, MD Mondi Extrusion Coatings.

Mars Africa
Lisa Ronquest-Ross (R&D director, Mars Africa) and Andy Mulholland (food packaging buyer, Mars Africa).

The project demanded out-of-the-box thinking from all the partners as Lisa Ronquest-Ross, R&D director for Mars Africa, comments: “During the development phase the team was faced with significant challenges from initial trial reels that disintegrated on line, to shifting mindsets and proving that non-foil packaging is puncture-resistant, food-safe and can deliver long shelf life.”

The result, a high-gloss, white clay-coated paper with a modified polyethylene backing, is a packaging solution that delivers both sustainability benefits and cost savings without compromising on quality or food safety.

Moreover, the introduction of a special sealing polymer has brought about extensive energy and cost savings by reducing sealing temperatures from 175°C to 115°C on the high-speed filling lines.

“By removing the non-recyclable aluminium foil from the laminate, we will achieve a 25% reduction in the materials’ carbon footprint,” says Ronquest-Ross.

For the last 20 years, food manufacturers have had to rely on paper/aluminium foil packaging to achieve high oxygen and moisture barriers for dry soup powders and sauces. Tests have shown conclusively that the new non-foil, co-extruded high barrier paper laminate successfully delivers an 18-month shelf life for dry powders.

The entire Royco instant and packet soup range is currently being re-launched in the new packaging resulting in sizable sustainability benefits.

From a consumer perspective, the benefits are also considerable. The new packaging ensures products retain their great taste over their shelf life enabling Royco to live up to its delicious every time brand promise and the foil-free packaging makes it easier to open.

“Above all, consumers know that every time they choose a Royco instant or packet soup, they are making a better choice for the planet,” adds Ronquest-Ross.