Innovative cook-in-the-tray packs produced by Midlands-based Nicholl Food Packaging have won two top industry awards.


One of the company’s products allowed Dalehead Foods of Cambridge to market the first ready-to-cook sausage pack in the UK.


Nicholl Food Packaging, which is based at Aldridge but recently bought a new £5 million distribution and warehousing depot at Cannock, was one of four winners in the Foil Pack of the Year awards organised by the European Aluminium Foil Association.


The aluminium pack allows consumers to remove the sealed plastic wrapping and place the tray directly in the oven or under the grill without having to handle the food. It can also be used on a barbecue.


The judges felt the tray represented a radical break from traditional forms of packaging and bought a fresh product image to the humble sausage.


The secret of the tray is a ribbed and slotted trivet which allows meat fat and juices to separate cleanly without splattering – producing a better cooked sausage with a lower fat content for healthier eating.


The pack also allows for a modified internal atmosphere which gives the food a longer shelf life.


Nicholl Food Packaging, which is the largest manufacturer of aluminium foil containers n Europe, has also won a silver star in the Institute of Packaging’s Starpack 2004 awards for its oven-ready tray for turkey crown roasts.


This product was launched last Christmas in Marks & Spencer and proved to be a resounding success.


Convenience and hygiene were the two main drivers behind the development of the innovative pack which greatly helped sales growth of this premium product range.


Chief Operating Officer Andrew Dent said: “These awards are testament to our determination to remain at the cutting edge of food technology and to the hard work of our staff.”


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Note to Editors: Nicholl Food Packaging, which has a turnover of £65 million, has UK plants at Aldridge and Cannock in the West Midlands. It has further facilities in Belgium and France.