Inventor David Lorimer’s international filing – which hit the World Intellectual Patent Organization’s inbox in July 2013, but was published internationally last week – describes a two-compartment food container with a thermoplastic body, a flexible closure (such as a foil) and a second flexible lid to seal an upper opening.
The patent application documents show a container with two superposed foils, one of which provides an inner cover that partitions an interior volume within the pot, where there’s space to store a small spoon.
“This two foil configuration does not interfere with the structure of the side wall so that a conventional stacking of the containers is permitted,” Lorimer writes.
Trimming unit cost without aesthetic compromise
“The side wall of the body may also be covered by a decorative strip or band (also called banderol). More generally, it is important as far as possible to reduce the unit cost of each package but without impairing its strength and its aesthetic characteristics,” he adds.
The containers are intended to be filled with any liquid or semi-liquid dairy product or similar food (preferably a yogurt), with a capacity of 50-500g.
Form-fill-seal (FFS) technology is typically used to produce, in high quantities, conventional containers grouped in packs and each sealed by a single flexible closure lid or membrane.
Since packs are stacked atop each other to form pallets, using packs with several linked containers is highly preferable to optimize pallet loading and spread compressive load.
When opening traditional plastic containers with two foils, the patent claims, the user often encounters problems when peeling off the respective foils.
Industry needs affordable, ‘user friendly’ RTE food products
So the patent application stresses the need for more user-friendly ready to eat (RTE) food products that can be produced by efficient industrial processes, and better adapted to multipack and/or FFS production.
The design claims to allow for better sealing of the lower compartment because the design prevents accidental removal of the second closure or upper lid; the first foil closure includes a pull tab to allow for easy opening.
The shoulder of the carton also ‘defines a slope’, which the application claims helps allow stacking of individual containers and also allows a reduction in the amount of plastic used in manufacture.
“Such containers can be produced for highly competitive markets, using processes that reduce the unit cost of each package, but without impairing the strength of the container that is easy-to-handle,” Lorimer writes.
A further purpose of Danone’s claimed invention is to provide a food pack that can be easily manipulated in supermarket supply chains – so the containers can be arranged in rows of, preferably, four containers – with the flanges of each pack integrally formed and separably joined to each other a breakable junction.