Packaging innovation is the key to delivering high-quality microwaved food for time-poor consumers, according to Roger Villar, cooking solutions manager at market leading carton manufacturer, Graphic Packaging International (GPI). 

According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), employees in the UK currently work the longest hours in Europe. The long hours’ culture and increased commute faced by many Britons is helping generate a noticeable shift in shopping habits. More consumers today are forgoing the weekly ‘big shop’ replacing it with three to four convenience shops per week instead. 

GPI’s innovative range of microwave packaging offers a solution to consumers who have less time to prepare and cook food but are seeking better-than-average meal quality.  

The advanced cooking solutions range uses susceptor technology to enable a wide variety of cooking results such as browning and crisping, steaming and even heating. The range delivers reduced food preparation times across a broad range of foods, including convenience foods, pastry based products (sweet and savoury), pizza and meat, fish & poultry.

The unique GPI susceptor technology is a microwave-safe metallized element that is added to the pack to refocus microwave energy and generate a quicker, superior cooking result compared to standard packaging. The application of the technology is also unique to each product in order to ‘tailor’ the result. 

Mr Villar commented: “Contrary to popular belief, not all microwaves offer the same cooking quality and therefore not all microwaved food should be cooked the same way. Our susceptor technology has been developed to provide bespoke cooking improvements to a wide range of microwavable foods.

“The range is subject to rigorous testing and development to ensure that superior quality results are achieved within the rapid cooking time associated with microwaves.” 

GPI has a testing kitchen in Europe and a research and development facility in the U.S.A where Mr Villar and the cooking solutions team work with development chefs to create the best possible product and susceptor film technology combinations for microwave ovens.The enhanced cooking solutions range today now incorporates a number of designs:

MicroFlex-Q® is a flexible packaging film for browning and crisping food products. It can be used in carton format via patch application and is printable and both moisture and grease resistant.

Quilt Wave® is a microwave technology designed to be used with irregularly shaped food products. Quilt Wave® has been engineered with cells known as “quilts” that expand when exposed to microwaves, driving away moisture and allowing maximum browning and crisping.Qwik Crisp® is a bespoke solution that works using unique susceptor patterns designed to unique specifications. Qwik Crisp® can be used in a number of formats including cartons and trays and is ideal where browning and crisping of dough-based products, such as bread and pizza, is required. 

Focus Inset Carton® includes a microwave susceptor pattern that is applied during the manufacturing process eliminating the need for secondary packaging elements and provides the capability to brown and crisp food.

Finally, MicroRite® manages the microwave energy during the cooking process to minimise loss of moisture from products and deliver even heating to them. The result is oven-quality food from the microwave.

Adding to his earlier comments, Roger Villar said: “There are many misconceptions about the use of susceptors in packaging and the quality of foods that can be microwave cooked.  We are working with a range of clients bringing new fast, fresh and nutritious microwave cooking solutions to market and I'm sure this range will continue to flourish as consumers seek further reductions in preparation and cooking times through improved packaging convenience.”

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