The adapa retractable bag, tested and ready for the future


Shrink bags have been standard packaging in the food sector for several decades and are indispensable for packaging meat products, cheese, etc. The adapa Group, one of the leading manufacturers of flexible packaging solutions in Europe, counts the production of shrink bags as one of its main competencies and can boast about 40 years of experience in this application. In the group’s portfolio, the retractable bag is an important strategic pillar of great relevance thanks to its great potential for saving resources. This is enough reason for adapa to continue expanding the group’s retractable bag capacities with heavy investments.

The retractable bag: a real all-rounder

Shrink bags are a packaging solution that has been proven for decades and at the same time a true high-tech product: modern shrink materials are extremely thin and consist of several different layers that give the corresponding package its special properties.Moderna Shrink packaging is extremely effective and offers packaged products the best protection and quality preservation throughout their entire life cycle: from storage to sale at the point of sale, through transportation and distribution. Shrink bags are used as a ripening container for certain products, such as cheese or meat. With their barrier properties optimally adapted to the respective packaged products, they guarantee a first-class product quality, for example delicately ripened meat or perfectly ripened cheese. In terms of appearance and feel, shrink packaging is an ‘honest package’: it presents its contents in a clearly visible and tangible way from all sides. In addition, the good printability offers many possibilities for an eye-catching presentation of the brand, whether at the service counter or on the self-service line of food retailers.

More automation, different requirements

Nowadays, the sequences of the packaging process in shrink bags are largely automated. The bags are opened in the machines, filled with the product, emptied, sealed and finally retracted. Robotic technology is increasingly being used to fill the bags. This high degree of automation has greatly increased the frequency of cycles (packages/minute) and has allowed the packaging speed to double in recent years. The high speed, combined with shorter cycle times, leaves less time for sealing, which is why the sealing means have been adapted to smaller and smaller processing windows. Moreover, the shrink bags for these highly automated packaging processes require adequate mechanical strength as well as particularly reliable sealing seams, as they are exposed to high loads during the filling process. In general, the degree of automation and, therefore, the packaging speed largely depends on the product being packaged: while uniform and solid products, such as cheese portions or breads, can be packaged relatively automatically, this is not always possible to the same extent in the case of soft products with variable sizes, such as fresh meat.

The adapa retractable bag, tested and ready for the future 2

Surprisingly sustainable thanks to the saving of material

In the interest of resource conservation and climate protection, adapa strives with its entire portfolio of flexible packaging solutions to combine the best packaging performance and the best use of materials. In the segment of shrink bags, this has been achieved thanks to many years of development work, which has resulted in increasingly thinner sheets, and has turned this packaging variant into an extremely sustainable solution. The retractable bags combine reliable product protection – thus counteracting food waste simultaneously – with minimal use of material. For example, for the ripening packaging of a cheese wheel weighing about 3.5 kilograms, only a shrink bag weighing approximately 12 grams is needed: overall, an excellent ratio between the weight of the packaged product and that of the packaging material.

Award-winning performance: Designed to recycle VACUshrink(re) MEX 55

As part of the packaging industry’s commitment to developing more sustainable solutions, the classic shrink bag can make the most of its advantageous properties. As part of its company-wide rethinking initiative, the adapa Group is collaborating with its customers to promote the replacement of conventional packaging with more sustainable alternatives. A good example of this is the VACUshrink(re)MEX 55: the high-barrier retractable bag, suitable for packaging meat or cheese, does not require cross-linking. It does not contain PA layers or PVDC barrier and is certified as recyclable. The PE-based bag is certified as recyclable and can be easily processed with conventional equipment. For this reason, the VACUshrink(re)MEX 55 was awarded the coveted WorldStar Award 2023 in the category of Packaging Materials and Components. She has also won the German Packaging Award 2022 in the Sustainability category and the PackTheFuture Award 2023 in the Design for Recycling category, and has recently been shortlisted for the Environmental Packaging Award.

Retractable bags in every conceivable variant, and now with even more capabilities

The adapa Group’s shrink materials are available in both prefabricated bags and flat sheets. For shrink bags, there are different sealing shapes, such as bottom and side seals in different designs, as well as sealing configurations with special shapes. The shrink bags, which are supplied loose, stacked, taped or perforated in roll (POR), can be optimally processed on all common packaging machines, as they have excellent mechanical properties, as well as excellent sealing ability. This proven and at the same time very current packaging solution has great potential for the future thanks to its good compatibility of product protection and resource conservation. This fact has motivated the adapa Group to make significant investments in two locations. This includes investments in a significant upgrade of adapa’s Shrink Materials Centre of Excellence in Kempten, southern Germany, which will allow for increased capacity. In addition, the UK St Helens Limited site in the North of England is currently being expanded to include two lines of state-of-the-art retractable bags, which are intended to offer British customers in particular even faster availability and the best local service. While the first plant is already in operation, the second is expected to enter service at the end of May 2023. In this way, the adapa Group will continue to guarantee its customers the supply of Moderna packaging solutions with the usual high quality.