A new generation of barrier films combining EVOH and oxygen scavenger technology to optimise the shelf life of foods such as ready meal ingredients is being developed by RPC Bebo Plastik in Germany.

It has been working with raw material supplier Ciba and key customers, including HJ Heinz and Unilever Bestfoods to perfect the new range.

The films take advantage – in what it is believed may be the world’s first such combined system – of both EVOH’s proven barrier properties and oxygen scavengers’ oxygen capturing abilities.

The first, seven-layer, film incorporates both an EVOH barrier and a layer combining polypropylene mixed with an oxygen scavenge, and can be thermoformed into familiar tray and dish shapes for ready meals.

RPC Bebo says trials show the technology “offers clear flavour and colour advantages over conventional barrier packaging without oxygen scavengers”. Consumers reported overall freshness had also improved, even after a six-month shelf life.