Shrink Wrap vs Vacuum Packing

Flexible & Display Packaging / 08 Jan 2022

Shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging are both types of flexible display packaging; hence, they can be confusing for some of us who are not in the packaging industry. In this blog, we would like to discuss the similarities, differences, and recommendations of the products for each type.

First of all, what is shrink wrap and what is vacuum packaging?

Shrink wrapping is a type of packaging method that uses plastic film and heat to “shrink” the film to the shape of the product. Vacuum packaging uses a nozzle or pressure to remove air from packaging. Once the air is removed, it is then sealed.

So, what similarities do they share that make people confused?

Both shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging are often used for packaging food and they do help to extend shelf life. They use transparent bags or rolls of plastic film and require heat sealing to enclose the product, which makes their appearances look similar.

How do we differentiate them?

Although they both used transparent bags or plastic films, however, we can still differentiate them as vacuum bags are usually 4 times thicker than shrink films. Other than using different materials, both packaging methods have different processes; thus, their machines are completely different and are not interchangeable.

The most significant difference between these 2 packaging methods is the presence of oxygen.

As mentioned earlier, both shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging do help to extend shelf life, but to a different extent. Shrink wrapping’s purpose is to protect the food from dirt, dust & moisture. As shrink wrapping does not eliminate the air from the inside, it is not ideal for perishable goods because the air trapped inside can become a breathing ground for bacteria.

Contrarily, vacuum packaging squeezes all the air so there is nothing left inside the package. This is useful in preventing water build-up inside, which can be caused by condensation of the air inside it. Brilliant for items that are perishable because no air inside the package; thus, bacteria & microbes cannot grow in there.

Recommendation of products being shrink wrapped or vacuum packaged

As shrink wrap requires heating the wrapping to create a tight seal but adding heat would not be appropriate for every type of product. Hence, shrink wrap might not be the best solution for fresh meat or perishable food.

With the absence of oxygen, vacuum packaging is highly recommended for fresh meat or seafood, which would be more effective in extending the shelf life in conjunction with refrigerating or freezing the food. Which is said to make your food last up to 5 times longer than traditional storage methods.

Contact us for a free consultation on which packaging method is best for your product.

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