It stands to reason that the company that conceived a product as iconic and useful as Bubble Wrap, would find its way to the top tier of Flexible Packaging’s Top 25 Converters list.

Sealed Air Corp., including its flexible packaging division Cryovac, has a lot to be proud of this year. Led by CEO Bill Hickey, the company had an impressive trade industry awards haul and continued success in bringing innovative new products to market.

Financially speaking, the company had a solid 2007: estimated sales were $2.8 billion. And its growth continues. First quarter 2008 earnings for Sealed Air’s food packaging segment increased 7% to $468 million compared with $437 million last year. Operating profit for the first quarter was $56 million, or 12.0% of food packaging net sales, compared with $56 million, or 12.8% of net sales, in 2007.

Today, Cryovac food packaging solutions and systems operate in a number of different markets, including case-ready, fresh, smoked and processed meats; convenience foods; dairy; foodservice; poultry; bakery; pizza and pastas; produce; fish and seafood; and industrial food and liquids.

For these markets, Cryovac offers lidstock for trays; absorbent pads; vacuum bags; liners for intermediate bulk containers; shrink films; and rollstock, laminates and pouches.

Food isn’t Cryovac’s only market. It also serves the medical and pharmaceutical markets with engineered products, such as multilayer, coextruded films and ostomy bags. Additionally, Cryovac offers a line of shrink films for protection of everything from industrial goods to consumer products.

Like all of Flexible Packaging’s Top 25 Converters, Sealed Air places a strong emphasis on sustainability, particularly through its use of renewable materials. The company accomplishes this with products such as NaturePAD, an absorbant pad for meat, poultry and fish that’s made from NatureWorks biopolymer, polylactic acid (PLA). NaturePAD, in combination with PLA-based NatureTRAY, gives processors and retailers a functional sustainable package for meat, poultry and fish.

Not unlike the other top converters, Cryovac’s awards haul for both design achievement and recognition as a quality supplier, sets it apart.

The Flexible Packaging Association recognized Cryovac with a Silver Award for technical innovation for its new vacuum shrink bag with an easy-open feature. The Cryovac Grip & Tear bag was one of 99 flexible packaging entries in the 2008 competition. Easily opened by pulling a tab, the Cryovac Grip & Tear bag’s design eliminates the potential mess created by opening some bags and keeps fingers, counters and utensils clean.

Cryovac’s packaging innovations don’t just serve customers in the retail food market, but in the foodservice market as well. At the Research Chefs Association’s 2008 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo, Cryovac used the opportunity to showcase the versatility of packaging and how it can positively affect cooking.

“Food packaging has evolved over the years, and it is an important consideration for foodservice operators,” said Chef Allison Rittman, for Cryovac, in a press release. “Products like Cryovac brand vertical pouch packages and Simple Steps Ready Meal packaging help both back-of-house efficiency and the overall guest experience.”