When it comes to pickle packaging, consumers are very familiar with seeing a glass jar with a metal closure on store shelves. The reason that companies select this package format goes beyond industry standards, however. The partnership between metal and glass is an ideal vehicle to use in order to maintain the integrity of the product. It has long been regarded as the best solution to support the rigorous preparation and packing processes used for pickles.
While the package may be the same for many pickle brands, the processes themselves are not. The three major processes are: refrigeration, pasteurization, and natural fermentation. Refrigeration involves the pickles being placed in jars that are filled to the very top with brine and spices and then maintained under continuous refrigeration from the packaging facility until final consumption. This keeps the satisfying crunch consumers have come to expect. For pasteurization, the pickles are immersed in brine, but in this case with a specified headspace in the package that is sealed with a vacuum button closure that keeps the indicating button down until the consumer first opens the package. Natural fermentation allows for healthy bacteria to convert natural sugars into acids after the cucumbers and brine are put into a vat. The pickles are then packaged in glass jars and sealed with non-vacuum closures once the fermentation process is complete.
Considerations over the type of closure to use include the individual product’s composition, processing method, and whether the filling process is automated or manual. It’s also essential to know if the finished product will be packed in trays or fully enclosed cartons and how the product is shipped.
Regardless of the packaging techniques, it is important to understand that the brine used to pack pickles can contain acidic ingredients such as salt, spices, and vinegar and thereby influence the closure coating selection.
One of the more popular closure styles from CROWN Closures North America used to package pickles is the Twist closure because it is available in large diameters and a wide range of profiles including a smooth or fluted skirt. It also has a large surface area that can be decorated and showcase brand messaging. Because of the size of the pickles themselves, containers typically feature a larger opening. The wider diameter increases the torque needed to remove the closure, making it harder for children and the elderly to open the container. CROWN’s Orbit Closure eases the opening process and enhances convenience for consumers of all ages. Designed in two parts—a central panel sealed to the jar by vacuum and an outer ring screwed in place to provide protection—the Orbit Closure requires less torque for opening. A benefit for brand owners is that there is no need for significant changes to the existing capping machinery or the glass container in order to employ this type of closure.
In addition to offering closures themselves, suppliers like CROWN also provide brands with testing and quality solutions, as well as the capping machinery and necessary follow up services including routine maintenance, spare parts, and training for new staff.
Although many consumers can often overlook the different types of pickles because they may not be aware of the different processes, the pairing of a glass jar and a metal closure remains the packaging format of choice for many brands and continues to line shelves in both the refrigerated and non-refrigerated aisles of stores.
For brands, partnering with an experienced packaging supplier will allow them to have a better understanding of how different packaging and processing methods can impact the selection of materials, sealing compounds, and formats that ultimately create the right closure.
Heath is the director of marketing at CROWN Closures North America. Reach her at [email protected].