Specialised papers in the baking industry

By Vanessa Clark

The mood in South Africa’s baking papers market seems somber, which should come as no surprise. Most baking paper is  imported and local manufacturers such as Sappi have moved their attention elsewhere  Add to that a weakened Rand and an increase in lower quality papers arriving in South Africa from the East, and you can forgive the industry for being more than a little taciturn.

So what is going on in the industry? Apart from some news around Woolworths leading the charge on updated recycling labels on its packaging, not a lot it seems. So now might be a good opportunity to reassess the specialised papers you are using for your baking activities, and make sure they are fit for purpose.

Nordic Paper reminds us that greaseproof paper is intended to make work in the bakery easier by simplifying the process of getting baked goods out of baking tins and trays. These don’t need to be greased: saving time spend greasing and washing tins and trays, as well as reducing the overall fat required to produce the final product, thus keeping health conscious consumers happy. For those with a sweet tooth, greaseproof paper can stand up to a high sugar content in baked goods.

Paper wins in the environmental stakes too, being considerably greener than other materials such as aluminium and Teflon, which can be used for the same non-stick purposes. Of course, paper can also be re-used, reducing waste.

Doing the sums

Nordic Paper makes the case for greaseproof paper –  often a grudge purchase – actually being very economical. According to its calculations, paper comprises around 0.4% of total costs. Over and above that, simplified baking processes, increased efficiency and productivity, and the increased lifespan of tins and trays adds to overall profitability.

Doubling up

Packaging needs to do double duty – both as a functional item and as a marketing tool. Nordic Paper points out that converters using its paper to produce baking cups, for instance, as happens in South Africa, have found the paper suitable for a wide range of applications. Both by producing unique shapes and by printing on the paper itself, converters can offer their customers a choice of innovative branding and marketing opportunities.

Nordic Paper is supplied in South Africa by Cibapac Unsgaard & Samson – www.unsam.co.za

Other suppliers of specialised papers for the baking industry include Pretoria’s Plastilon Packaging. Founded in 1973, it has expanded to Namibia, as well as two wholesale warehouses in Pretoria, with another store planned for this year.

Coated Fabrics is another family run business, and stocks WizBake sheets. These are reusable baking sheets for trays, tins and frying pans up to 260 degrees Celsius. No grease or non-stick spray is required and the sheets wipe clean to be used again. The range includes toasting bags and microwave liners.

Getting more for your money

Here’s a heads up for bakers using paper to package and market the final products. The vintage cupcake and pie wrapper look is becoming increasingly popular for bake-at-home products. Woolworths has issued a challenge to the rest of the industry to match its new on-pack recycling labeling (OPRL), which was launched at the end of last year, and is intended to make it easier for customers to recycle correctly. Woolworths realised that traditional recycling symbols were designed to assist recyclers but were confusing for consumers.

Also, consumers assumed that all packaging with a recycling symbol on it was recyclable. This is not the case. South African recyclers don’t yet have the technology to recycle certain materials, even though it is possible in theory to recycle them.

A third problem was that incorrect disposal meant that some items couldn’t be recycled. South African company WastePlan says that 10% of recyclable material becomes non-recyclable due to contamination.

The new OPRL provides customers with simple icons and messaging showing each component of the packaging; the type of material it is made from, including what sustainable materials have been used; and the likelihood of each element of the packaging being widely recycled in South Africa, or not.

“Using the same icons on packaging designs across the retail and waste management sector will improve the rate of recycling by making it easier for customers to participate. Our aim is for the design of the Woolworths on-pack recycling label to become the adopted standard for all packaging in South Africa,” says Kiril Dimitrov, Woolworths Foods Packaging Manager.

“Most of our customers want to recycle; these labels make it easier for them to make informed decisions,” Dimitrov adds.

Woolworths aims to have at least 20% of its products displaying the new label by March 2014. Introduction of the new on-pack recycling label will be phased in as designs change or new product lines are introduced.

“Our approach to packaging is about achieving the right balance between ensuring that products remain protected and, in the case of food, that the product remains safe and hygienic. Our packaging also extends the shelf life for as long as possible so that additional food waste is not created,” Dimitrov concludes.

OPRL is something to bear in mind when designing bespoke printed paper packaging concepts.