With pet foods a basic distinction must be made between wet food and dry food (also known as ‘treats‘). The latter is frequently packaged in bags. For dry, chunky goods bag clippers are the best option. Pet food (mainly dog food, but occasionally cat food) that is packaged in (sausage-shaped) clip-pak® consists exclusively of wet food, and is comparable with products which are packaged into cans or trays, for example. The form of presentation of pet food in clip-pak® (‘dog sausages’) varies and is adjusted to suit the individual requirements of the pet owner:
- Fresh food (BARF)
Fresh meat is packaged in clip-pak® and treated as fresh produce. The pet owner obtains a hygienically packaged product which can be fed to the pet as a raw product or cooked along with additives such as rice and then served. The purchasers of such products are essentially commercial breeders, who buy the clip-pak® products in large containers weighing 2-5 kg. The shelf life is a maximum of one week stored at temperatures of 4-8°C.
- Frozen products
Frozen products are an alternative to fresh food. They have a longer shelf life of up to six months in frozen condition and are also sold in containers weighing 2-5 kg.
- Pasteurised products
In order to offer the pet owner a fresh finished product that is already enriched with additives such as rice, fish, chicken, vitamins and the like, these products are pasteurised. No further subsequent treatment of this prepared food is necessary. These products are exclusively packaged in plastic casings. By refrigerating appropriately they can be kept for up to 6-8 weeks, and are predominantly sold to private animal owners. The package sizes are between 200 g and 1 kg.
- Sterilised products
These products are a genuine alternative to finished products in cans and trays. The purchasers are mostly individual animal owners, who appreciate a minimum shelf life of two years without refrigeration. This is ensured by sterilisation in counter-pressure autoclaves at a core temperature of 121°C. In this way, the product status of a full preserve is achieved. The packaging material must be aluminium laminated film, as the water vapour barrier provided by plastic films is not sufficient to maintain a constant product weight over such a long period of time. Packages are produced in units of 200 g to 1 kg, and in special cases also 80 g, as dog snacks.
The fresh and frozen foods in particular are frequently manufactured by small producers and as add-on products in butcheries. Often, staff are working with manual clipping machines such as a DCD, or with semi-automatic PDCs, and in individual cases FCA automatic double-clippers are also used. Pasteurisation is applied in both small enterprises and in industrial concerns. Small industrial enterprises frequently produce for chains of pet supply stores or operate a direct sales organisation including online trading. For the manufacture of sterilised products what is required, in addition to the clipping machine, is a sealing machine for processing of the aluminium laminated film. Apart from this, a high-quality counter-pressure autoclave is required for sterilisation of these products. On a cost comparison, the clip-pak® has clear advantages over the tin can. Can fillers and closers represent a considerable investment. The filling line for clip-pak® on the other hand is clearly more economical, consisting for example of a TSCA 120/160 Automatic Sealing/Clipping Machine and an appropriate pump or filling unit. With can fillers the filling quantity per hour is of course clearly higher, but these are high-performance machines with a very high price tag, which for many producers is far too high. Consequently, for small and medium pet food manufacturers the clip-pak® filling line represents a viable alternative.
The clip-pak® also offers specific advantages in terms of packaging material costs. A 400 g can with lid and label costs around 10-12 cents per package. The packaging material costs for the clip-pak®, inclusive of clips and high-quality printing of the film, are approximately 6 cents per clip-pak®. This price difference alone makes it possible for medium-sized pet food manufacturers to bring an economically priced product onto the market. Large pet food manufacturers regard the clip-pak® as supplementing and rounding off their product range. The consumption of pet food worldwide is continually on the increase.