Space-age technology and kids clothing have provided the inspiration for a new cheese packaging opening and closing system being rolled out by Milk Link.

Made from polyethylene hook and loop gripping fasteners, Grip Strip looks similar to Velcro. Milk Link, which has the exclusive rights to use the format in the dairy sector for 18 months, believes the new system will become the industry standard, replacing zip lock, which is used by branded category leaders such as Cathedral City and Pilgrims Choice.

"We constantly talk to consumers and know that they have been unhappy with current packaging solutions for some time as the zip format doesn't truly deliver for them," said sales and marketing director Hamish Renton.

The closure system had been developed from technology used in the aerospace industry, he added. "We all know what Velcro does, we all had Velcro as kids making it food-grade was the real leap."

In a study conducted by Leatherhead Food Research, 70% of those questioned also found Grip Strip easier to reseal. "This is a world first for the use of this technology in food packaging," said Caine Folkes-Miller, MD of plastics supplier Aplix, which developed the Grip Strip.

Grip Strip will be used across all named creamery block Cheddar supplied by Milk Link to Sainsbury's, in addition to its Cadog Welsh Cheddar and Scottish Lockerbie brands. It currently has no plans to use Grip Strip for Tickler, as it would retract from the artisanal and "home-crafted" feel of the brand, said Renton.

Although Milk Link admitted that Grip Strip was more expensive to manufacture than the old packaging, it refused to say whether the rsp had increased.

The new packaging, which went on to shelves this week, is being communicated to consumers by way of a 'fresher for longer' message featured on the front of packs.

Zip lock packaging is used on 50.5% of branded cheese products [Kantar Worldpanel July 2009].

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