Refrigerated food products need high-barrier, flexible film packaging for a long shelf life, but recent disruptions are threatening the supply. A family-owned American dairy producer was staring down production stoppages and a sales shortfall due to material shortages, it needed to find and validate alternative materials for emergency use.

The dairy producer leveraged NTT DATA’s packaging optimization competency to help secure, validate, and deploy compatible materials, avoiding production disruptions, minimizing risk and building sourcing resiliency.

Business Needs

Refrigerated food products with shelf lives of a month or more need packing films for protection from exposure to oxygen and moisture. Risk mitigation practices call for alternative packaging films, but a limited number of factories in the United States supply these materials, and supply chain issues are adding to the shortage.

Finding alternative, equally protective film stocks of similar machinability was a priority; without an alternative, the primary packaging material for four large product categories would run out.


  • Implements a phased testing plan to mitigate risks
  • Secures backup material options for four product categories
  • Minimizes production disruptions and revenue loss


The biggest challenges revolved around material performance. Even the smallest packaging defects in food can lead to poor results for consumers. Looking to minimize risks, the team implemented a phased testing plan.

The screening phase involved small sample sets that compared proposed materials with the current material. Films performing well when compared to the current materials passed to the next phase, allowing a quick review of potential candidates.

The qualification phase involved pallet-quantities of product. Trials included both internal testing and shipping testing to determine if materials were fit for use. Testing for leaks and elevation-related damage helped whittle down the number of suitable films. These trials addressed the machinability and production effects of new materials.

The production scale-up phase began with four-hour run times, with gradual increases to four-day run times. Packaging engineers monitored lines and made sure no issues were overlooked in earlier phases. The process also helped dial-in film temperatures and seal times.

This phased approach created an understanding of how candidate films perform. This provided the ability to weed out incompatible films early and avoid spending unnecessary time and resources.

Ultimately, 15 film options from four vendors were chosen for data sheet review and initial screening. One material qualified for production and three additional materials pre-qualified. Any of these four materials can cover a future shortage, and all four product categories now have a backup material option in reserve.

About This Case Study

An American dairy producer utilized NTT DATA Packaging Optimization to address material shortages, avoid production stoppages and sales shortfalls.


Commercial, Manufacturing


United States

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