In Part One, we discussed the importance of defining the goals and objectives prior to starting a test. In Part Two, we share tips to help processors plan out the necessary resources to perform a successful packaging test.
Part 2: Additional Testing Resources
There are several resources that must be available to conduct a successful test. The first is an adequate supply of sample packaging on-hand to effectively measure the performance. The actual amount required will vary based on what is being evaluated. For example, a flavor test on a spice profile may require only a few sample pieces, whereas a color test on a new smoked net may call for 50 or more pieces. However, for a cook-yield test, it is recommended to run the entire smokehouse, which may demand a minimum of 350 pieces. The processor and food packaging supplier together should determine the scope of the test and ensure that the sample pieces are available.
The second resource that needs to be available is the actual production line. To obtain the most valid test results, it is important that the conditions of the test closely replicate the actual production conditions for the product. This means running the test on the actual production line using actual product. Many processors are reluctant to do this if the production line is currently running commercial product; however, they must account for equipment variations that may impact the packaging performance. Running the test on the actual production line allows that variable to be considered in the results.
Thirdly, most packaging companies recommend having on-site technical support. On-site technical support teams from the packaging company should be familiar with not only the packaging but also with a broad range of equipment types commonly used in processing plants. If there is a less than desirable result, these technical representatives can quickly define the problem and propose possible solutions. Some packaging manufacturers offer this type of technical support free of charge and can be a great way to make sure processors get the most out of their testing day.
In Part Three, we’ll look at the factors determining whether a test should be repeated or not.