Food in tubes: from Space-food to Picnic food
When we think about food in tubes we probably think about concentrated tomato paste or maybe mayonnaise and other condiments, but the ‘tube food’ culture found in much of Scandinavia, where even cheese and cod roe is packaged in tubes, shows that the possibilities are endless: As long as the product is ‘squeezable’ – semi-soft and not too liquid – it is pretty much perfect for tube packaging.
The hygienic alternative
One of the biggest benefits of food in tubes is hygiene. When you open a glass jar you are immediately introducing contaminants and oxygen, which, in turn, immediately begins to shorten the lifespan of the product. When food is packaged in tubes outside contaminants are eliminated, and the lifespan of the product is lengthened considerably. You also don’t get contamination from other products, such as you do when spreading jam on an already buttered slice of toast.
Other benefits include the ability to control more precisely how much of the product is used, thus reducing waste, as well as convenience. When you’re traveling, going on a picnic, or away from home in any way taking along food in tubes is not only as easy as tucking a few into your bag, you also have much less mess and waste to contend with.
“Norden Machinery is the biggest supplier for food tube filling machines in the world,” says Björn Liljegren, Mechanical Design Fillers, at Norden Machinery.
“We introduced our first machine for this purpose in 1953, and there is still a Norden food filling tube machine in operation that was delivered in 1964.”
Since 1967 Kavli has been filling its food products in tubes using Norden machines, showing not just how trusted a partner Norden is but also how durable and flexible the machinery is.
New materials for tubes
While the technology hasn’t changed much over the years, Norden’s much-vaunted R&D department, which has generated hundreds of patents, has gained a lot of knowledge from its vast experience with packaging food in tubes and has learned how to fine tune things, leading to food tubes that do away with things like knives by giving the tube opening a long, thin shape, which allows you to spread the product as you squeeze the tube.
“The biggest change has come from materials,” says Lars Hammarstedt, Sales Director at Norden Machinery.
“Before, tubes were only made of metal, which limited the possibilities, but today you can fill food in a plastic tube, as well as a plastic or aluminium-laminated tube with good barrier capabilities. You can also shape tubes in endless ways, which from a commercial standpoint makes the product more attractive.”
The range of applications; from space-food to picnic food
Swedes have been squeezing soft cheese and cod roe from tubes for a long time but some of the foods currently being packaged in tubes might surprise you: condensed milk, oyster sauce, honey, and peanut butter are just a few – and there is even the possibility to combine foods in tubes, such as the classic American combination of peanut butter & jelly. Even better, you can actually control how much peanut butter and how much jelly you want to dispense with a ‘doser’ at the end of the tube!
“We’ve even had some really niche markets over the years,” says Lars Hammarstedt.
“One was Russian Cosmonauts, who were able to eat things like meat dishes and vegetables from tubes – and the caps were attached to the tubes so that they didn’t float off in the zero-gravity environment.”
So whether you’re having breakfast at home, on a road trip with the kids, or taking a once-in-a-lifetime journey into space food in tubes is the easy, hygienic, and very convenient solution.