Meridian® XR MPS-300

R.A. Jones debuts market-first packaging machinery at Pack EXPO 2021

New paperboard packaging solution will help The Bumble Bee Seafood Company further its commitment to reducing ocean waste without sacrificing product quality

At PACK EXPO this week, R.A Jones showcased its future-ready packaging machinery, the Meridian XR MPS-300, customized to support The Bumble Bee Seafood Company’s major shift to a recycle-ready packaging format for multi-pack can products. The packaging equipment is the next evolution of R.A Jones’ multipacker for canned food and beverages, custom-built to replace Bumble Bee’s shrink wrap machines, in a market-first effort to package seafood multipacks with paperboard.

The Meridian XR was able to meet Bumble Bee’s needs of enhanced operational performance, speed and reliability because of the equipment’s high adaptability. Unique features of Meridian XR include a four-lane infeed for new packaging options and configurations, an air frame for reliable carton opening, integrated can count verification after loading, six- and 12-inch dual pitch transport, and more.

“R.A Jones is dedicated to providing high-quality and reliable equipment that can adapt to meet our customer’s needs of today and tomorrow,” said Jonathon Titterton, CEO of R.A Jones. “The process of developing the Meridian XR with Bumble Bee proves that our industry partners can take an actionable step toward innovation by shifting to sustainable packaging formats. We’re committed to continuing our longstanding history of providing customers with end-to-end insight and engineering expertise, as packaging trends continue to evolve.”

R.A Jones’ packaging equipment and technology consultation will fuel Bumble Bee’s bold sustainability goals, including a commitment to provide readily recyclable packaging, an action-driven by consumer, customer, and retailer support. Producing as many as 26 million multipacks (165 million cans) annually, Bumble Bee identified the shrink-wrapped product as an opportunity to continue to meet its commitment to keep plastic out of landfills and out of the ocean. As the first in the seafood industry to invest in and deploy paperboard multi-packaging, the partners set a pace and precedent for the global seafood industry to innovate.

“Moving our multipacks from shrink wrap to paperboard was not a simple process, but as a company we felt strongly that it was the right change to make for our planet, our customers, our consumers and also for Bumble Bee as a category leader,” said Jan Tharp, president and CEO, The Bumble Bee Seafood Company. “Engaging with an experienced, values-driven OEM partner to guide our packaging format transition was integral to making this work, so partnering with R.A Jones was a natural next step.”

While enhancing product protection throughout the manufacturing process, the partnership’s packaging solution also equips Bumble Bee with an easier-to-read packaging opportunity for conveying product benefits to consumers at the store shelf. The ergonomic benefits of the paperboard also assist in making the packaging more user-friendly and easy to open.  When consumer tested against Bumble Bee’s current multi-pack, the paperboard packaging earned significantly higher scores in terms of appeal, purchase intent and was perceived to be demonstrative of environmentally friendly packaging.

Retail customers have also expressed enthusiasm for the new paperboard packaging, citing increased flexibility in terms of shelf-space options. The new paperboard multipacks are expected to launch in-stores as early as H1 2022.