By moving to a new PET packaging design and in-house blowing with Sidel’s integrated blow-fill-cap solution, Orkla has boosted its ketchup production’s safety and capacity to meet increased consumer demands for convenient, sustainable, and healthier products.
Orkla Foods, part of the wider Nordic Orkla Group, is a market leader in ketchup, sauces, and dressings, selling branded products in Central Europe, the Baltics, and the Nordics. The group’s main ketchup facility in Fågelmara, in southeast Sweden, produces thirty million ketchup bottles a year with twenty different recipes.
Within the sauces and dressings category, consumer demand has increased for healthier ketchup with less sugar, salt, and preservatives and made using responsibly sourced ingredients. Similarly, there is a need for convenient and appealing primary packaging to deliver a great consumer experience while also differentiating brands. Additionally, as consumers are increasingly concerned by environmental issues, recyclable packaging is also essential for delivering sales and, ultimately, gaining market share.
With the ambition to meet these market goals, Orkla worked with Sidel to adapt its current production model to increase its production capacity and cost efficiency while reducing its environmental impact.
It’s all in the bottle
Orkla redesigned its packaging range from cylindrical PP (polypropylene) bottles to modern flat rectangular PET designs to meet consumer requirements. The new easy-to-use ‘squeezable’ shapes allow users to empty the bottle and completely ensure no unnecessary food wastage.
The new PET bottles are up to thirty percent lighter than the previous PP design. Orkla has also increased its sustainability credentials as bottles comprise at least 25 percent rPET (recycled PET), while the ketchup manufacturer aims to utilize fifty percent in the future.
Previously, bottles were blown externally and shipped from a UK supplier, but now performs are sourced locally in Sweden, resulting in a ninety percent reduction in CO2 emissions caused by transportation. The new shaped bottles are now blown in-house for greater control of bottle quality and stock management. Orkla uses Sidel’s preferential heating technology, optimizing PET distribution while allowing the asymmetrical stretching needed to blow flat and shaped containers.
“Switching to a more modern and sustainable PET bottle to revitalize our ketchup brands has been positively received by consumers, increasing sales and market shares,” said Per Samuelsson, project and process developer of Orkla Foods’ Fågelmara Plant. “Reducing our sourcing costs has also benefitted our profitability.”
A switch to ultra-clean ambient filling Combi
Orkla wished to remove additives from its product lines to answer the desire for healthier products.
“When we considered changing our recipe and filling temperature, we were concerned that this would change the product taste and quality which our customers have come to love and expect from Orkla. By working with Sidel, we could ensure that we kept our original taste profile while delivering a healthier, more eco-friendly product,” added Per Samuelsson.
With the replacement of outdated stand-alone filling technology, the ketchup manufacturer deliberately moved away from a hot filling process that uses temperatures above 85°C to ensure product stability and hygienic production but also consumes vast amounts of energy.
Thanks to an aseptic buffer tank, the recipe's new setup allows ambient filling with fewer preservatives. It reduces the overall energy consumption of the process and packaging line. Additionally, no water is used as the need for container cooling is not required anymore.
As the product batch is now safely stored in the aseptic tank during production and bottle changeover on the packaging line, this has led to two key benefits. Firstly, a reduction in waste, and secondly, changeovers performed by Orkla’s operators are seamless with less pressure on the time it takes to complete the task.
Sidel has provided this ultra-clean ambient filling technology within an integrated Combi solution combining the blowing and capping functionalities. With the Predis preform sterilization system embedded within the blower and the cap dry decontamination within the capper, Orkla’s quality and safety requirements are also fully met. The Predis blow-fill-cap Combi integrates all functions and transfers (preforms, bottles, and caps) in a unique, safe enclosure, avoiding any contamination risk.
This global solution has increased production capacity, from six tons per hour to nine preservative-free tons per hour. With production volumes being achieved in less time, Orkla benefited from the ability to introduce new formats and recipes onto its line.
“Sidel was able to draw upon its long-standing experience within the sauce and dressings industry to support Orkla reaching its overarching goals of health, modernity, and productivity,” said Sharma Abhinav, account manager, Food Home and Personal Care for UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia.