PACKAGING CONTAINING A CONSUMABLE

Packaging containing an amount of a consumable (e.g. an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff), the packaging comprising: a container comprising an opening; and a closure (e.g. an airtight seal) closing the opening; wherein the container and the closure define a cavity having a first volume; the consumable is located in the cavity; the container is expandable such that the container may be expanded (e.g. due to the elasticity of the container) to be able to contain a second volume; and the second volume is greater than the first volume. The consumable may be to be combined with an amount of liquid, and the second volume may be greater than or equal to a volume occupied by the combination of the amount of the consumable and the amount of the liquid.

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Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is the National Stage of International Application No. PCT/GB2013/050138, filed 23 Jan. 2013, which claims the benefit of and priority to GB 1201693.7, filed 31 Jan. 2012, GB1205363.3, filed 27 Mar. 2012 and GB1214587.6, filed 15 Aug. 2012, the contents of all of which are incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to packaging containing a consumable.

BACKGROUND

It is known for consumers to purchase dehydrated (i.e. dried), or partially dehydrated, foodstuffs (e.g. porridge oats, dried soup mixes, pasta, noodles etc.).

Typically, such foodstuffs are provided in containers in which they may be hydrated, e.g. rehydrated, and heated prior to consumption by the consumer. This hydration and heating may be achieved, for example, by adding a hot liquid to the container containing the dehydrated or partially dehydrated foodstuff.

The containers in which the dehydrated, or partially dehydrated, foodstuffs are provided are large enough to contain the foodstuff after it has been hydrated for consumption. However, whilst the foodstuff is in its dehydrated or partially dehydrated state, the volume of the container tends to be much larger than that occupied by the foodstuff. Thus, space is wasted.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, the present invention provides packaging containing an amount of a consumable, the packaging containing an amount of a consumable comprising a container comprising an opening, and a closure closing the opening, wherein the container and the closure define a cavity having a first volume, the consumable is located in the cavity, the container is expandable such that the container may be expanded to have a second volume, and the second volume is greater than the first volume.

The closure may be perforated.

The closure may be an airtight seal. The container may be expandable such that, on removing or breaking the airtight seal, the container may be expanded to have a second volume. Such expansion of the container to have the second volume may be unaided expansion caused by the elasticity of the container.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides packaging containing an amount of a consumable, the packaging containing an amount of a consumable comprising: a container comprising an opening, and a seal sealing the opening, wherein the container and the seal define a cavity having a first volume, the consumable is located in the cavity, the container is expandable such that, on at least partially removing the seal from the opening (i.e. upon unsealing the opening), the container may be expanded to have a second volume, and the second volume is greater than the first volume.

The consumable may be to be combined with an amount of liquid, and the second volume may be greater than or equal to a volume occupied by the combination of the amount of the consumable and the amount of the liquid.

The container may further comprise a closed end, and an elastic side wall disposed between the opening and the closed end, wherein the elastic side wall is in a compressed state, the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity such that, on at least partially removing the closure/seal from the opening, the elastic side wall expands, unaided, from the compressed state to an uncompressed state, and when the elastic side wall is in the uncompressed state, the container has the second volume.

The elastic side wall may be compressible along its length such that the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its uncompressed state is larger than the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its compressed state.

The elastic side wall may comprise a bellows-like structure.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable top portion disposed between the open end and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise a flange or shoulder.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise an externally screw-threaded portion for receiving an internally screw-threaded lid.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall, the bottom portion being contiguous with the closed end.

The container may be made of a heat resistant material.

The container may be made of low density polyethylene.

The container may be made of a compound comprising low density polyethylene and low density polyethylene.

The compound may comprise 90-95% low density polyethylene. The compound may comprise 5-10% high density polyethylene.

The compound may comprise 93% low density polyethylene. The compound may comprise 7% high density polyethylene.

Prior to being expanded, the height of the container may be between 40 mm and 50 mm.

The container may be expandable such that the height of the container is between 70 mm and 90 mm.

The consumable may be a consumable selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

The consumable may be an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of packaging an amount of a consumable, the method comprising providing a container having an opening, at least partially filling the container with the consumable, and closing, with a closure, the container with the consumable inside it such that the container and the closure define a cavity having a first volume, and the consumable is located in the cavity, wherein the container is expandable such that the container may be expanded to have a second volume, and the second volume is greater than the first volume.

The closure may be perforated.

The closure may be an airtight seal. The container may be expandable such that, on removing or breaking the airtight seal, the container may be expanded to have a second volume. Such expansion of the container to have the second volume may be unaided expansion caused by the elasticity of the container.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of packaging an amount of a consumable, the method comprising providing a container having an opening, at least partially filling the container with the consumable, and sealing, with a seal, the container with the consumable inside it such that the container and the seal define a cavity having a first volume, and the consumable is located in the cavity, wherein the container is expandable such that, on at least partial removal of the seal from the opening, the container may be expanded to have a second volume, and the second volume is greater than the first volume.

The consumable may be to be combined with an amount of liquid, and the second volume may be greater than or equal to a volume occupied by the combination of the amount of the consumable and the amount of the liquid.

The step of closing may be by means of an airtight seal.

The container may further comprise a closed end, and an elastic side wall disposed between the opening and the closed end, wherein the elastic side wall is in a compressed state, the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity such that, on at least partially removing the closure/seal from the opening, the elastic side wall expands, unaided, from the compressed state to an uncompressed state, and when the elastic side wall is in the uncompressed state, the container has the second volume.

The elastic side wall may be compressible along its length such that the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its uncompressed state is larger than the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its compressed state.

The step of providing a container may comprise compressing the container such that the elastic side wall is in the compressed state.

The elastic side wall may comprise a bellows-like structure.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable top portion disposed between the open end and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise a flange or shoulder and the step of compressing the container is performed by applying a force to the flange or shoulder.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise an externally screw-threaded portion, and the step of closing comprises screwing an internally screw-threaded lid onto the externally screw-threaded portion.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall.

The container may be made of a heat resistant material.

The container may be made of low density polyethylene.

Prior to being expanded, the height of the container may be between 40 mm and 50 mm.

The container may be expandable such that the height of the container is between 80 mm and 90 mm.

The consumable may be a consumable selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

The consumable may be an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides an expandable container for a consumable, the container comprising an open end, a closed end, and an elastic side wall disposed between the open end and the closed end, wherein the elastic side wall is compressible between an original position and a compressed position such that the container may be changed between having a first height and a second height, the second height being less than the first height, the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity to return to the original position unaided.

The elastic side wall may comprise a bellows-like structure.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable top portion disposed between the opening and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise a flange or shoulder.

The non-expandable top portion may comprise an externally screw-threaded portion for receiving an internally screw-threaded lid.

The container may further comprise a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall, the bottom portion being contiguous with the closed end.

The container may be made of a heat resistant material.

The container may be made of low density polyethylene.

When the elastic side wall is in its original position, the height of the container may be between 70 mm and 90 mm.

When the elastic side wall is in its original position, the height of the container may be 80 mm.

When the elastic side wall is in its compressed position, the height of the container may be between 40 mm and 50 mm.

When the elastic side wall is in its compressed position, the height of the container may be 45 mm.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of packaging a consumable, the method comprising providing an expandable container, the container being in accordance with any of the above aspects, compressing the container such that the elastic side wall is in the compressed position, at least partially filling the container with an amount of the consumable, and, whilst the elastic side wall is in the compressed position, closing the container with the predetermined amount of the consumable inside it.

The consumable may be a consumable selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

The consumable may be an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

The step of closing may be performed by means of an airtight seal applied over the open end of the container.

The step of closing may comprise screwing an internally screw-threaded lid onto the externally screw-threaded portion.

The step of compressing the container may comprise applying a force to the flange or shoulder.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a perspective view of an expandable container;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the container in its fully expanded state;

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the container in its fully compressed state;

FIG. 4 is a process flow chart showing certain steps of an embodiment of a process of packaging a foodstuff using the container;

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view the container coupled to a filling apparatus;

FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a top view the container coupled to the filling apparatus;

FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a cross section of the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus;

FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view the container coupled to the filling apparatus;

FIG. 9 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a cross section of the container coupled to the filling apparatus;

FIG. 10 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of an exploded view the packaging containing the foodstuff;

FIG. 11 is a process flow chart showing certain steps of an example process by which a consumer may use the packaging and foodstuff provided therein;

FIG. 12 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of a further container in its fully expanded state;

FIG. 13 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the further container in its fully compressed state; and

FIG. 14 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of a second further container in its fully expanded state; and

FIG. 15 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the second further container in its fully compressed state.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, like reference numerals refer to like elements.

The following description is based on embodiments of the invention and should not be taken as limiting the invention with regard to alternative embodiments that are not explicitly described herein.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a perspective view of an expandable container 2.

The container 2 comprises a top portion 4, a bottom portion 6, and an intermediate portion 8. The intermediate portion 8 is disposed between the top portion 4 and the bottom portion 6. The intermediate portion 8 has a bellow-like structure and may be expanded or compressed in folds like a bellows or a concertina. In other words, the intermediate portion 8 is expandable (i.e. may be elongated) and compressed.

The container 2 is generally cylindrical in shape. The container 2 is made of low density polyethylene (LDPE). The container 2 may be made using any appropriate process, e.g. blow-moulding. The container may be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

The container 2 is shown in FIG. 1 in its fully expanded state.

The container 2 may be changed from its fully expanded state to a fully compressed state by applying a compressive force (sufficient to overcome the resistive force of the intermediate portion 8, i.e. to overcome the resilience of the intermediate portion 8) to move the top portion 4 and the bottom portion 6 together.

During the process of compression of the container 2, i.e. during the process of changing the container 2 from its fully expanded state to its fully compressed state, the volume of the container 2 reduces, i.e. the cavity of the container 2 is made smaller. Thus, air is forced out of the container 2 through the opening 10.

When the container 2 has been compressed into its compressed state, and the compressive force that compressed the container 2 into its compressed state has been removed, the elasticity of the intermediate portion 8 is such that the container 2 expands back to its fully expanded state of its own accord. In other words, the intermediate portion 8 has sufficient elasticity to return to its original state (i.e. the expanded state) unaided. Thus, the intermediate portion 8 is an elastic side wall of the container 2.

During the process of expansion of the container 2, i.e. during the process by which the container 2 reverts to its fully expanded state (due to the elasticity of the intermediate portion 8), the volume of the container 2 increases, i.e. the cavity of the container 2 gets larger. Thus, air is drawn into the container 2 through the opening 10.

The top portion 4 forms the top of the container 2. The top portion 4 comprises an opening 10 through which foodstuffs may be placed into, or removed from, the container 2.

The top portion 4 further comprises a screw threaded portion 12 and a flange 14.

The screw threaded portion 12 is disposed between the opening 10 and the flange 14. The screw thread of the screw threaded portion 12 is disposed on the external surface of the top portion 4, i.e. the screw thread is an external screw thread.

The screw threaded portion 12 is contiguous with the opening 10. The flange 14 projects radially outwards from the upright surface of the top portion 4. The flange 14 is continuous around the circumference of the top portion 4.

The bottom portion 6 forms the bottom (i.e. closed end) of the container 2. The bottom portion 6 is non-expandable and non-compressible (relative to the intermediate portion 8).

The intermediate portion 8 comprises a plurality of tapered rings 16. Each tapered ring 16 has the shape of the frustum of a cone. Each tapered ring 16 has a relative larger diameter at one end, and a relatively smaller diameter at an opposite end.

In the intermediate portion 8, the tapered rings 16 are disposed as follows. At the top of the intermediate portion 8, a tapered ring 16 is attached, at the end of that tapered ring 16 having the relatively larger diameter, to the top portion 4. Also, at the bottom of the intermediate portion 8, a tapered ring 16 is attached, at the end of that tapered ring 16 having the relatively larger diameter, to the bottom portion 4. A plurality of tapered rings 16 are contiguously disposed between the tapered ring 16 at the top of the intermediate portion 8 and the tapered ring 16 at the bottom of the intermediate portion 8. This is such that the end of a tapered ring 16 having the relatively larger diameter is attached to the end having the relatively larger diameter of an adjacent tapered ring 16. Also, this is such that the end of a tapered ring 16 having the relatively smaller diameter is attached to the end having the relatively smaller diameter of an adjacent tapered ring 16.

In other words, the intermediate portion 8 comprises a bellows-like structure formed from a contiguous series of tapered rings 16.

Under a compressive force that moves the top portion 4 and the bottom portion 6 together, the ends of the tapered rings 16 that have the relatively larger diameters move closer together. Also, the ends of the tapered rings 16 that have the relatively smaller diameters move closer together. When this compressive force is removed, the elasticity of the intermediate portion 8 is such that the ends of the tapered rings 16 that have the relatively larger diameters move apart. Also, the ends of the tapered rings 16 that have the relatively smaller diameters move apart (i.e. the intermediate portion reverts to its original expanded state).

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the container 2 in its fully expanded state.

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the container 2 in its fully compressed state.

FIGS. 2 and 3 indicate the dimensions of the container 2 in this embodiment.

Preferably, the height of the container 2 in its fully expanded state is in the range 70 mm to 90 mm. More preferably, the height of the container 2 in its fully expanded state is 80 mm. Preferably, the volume of the container 2 in its fully expanded state is approximately 355 ml.

Preferably, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state is in the range 40 mm to 50 mm. More preferably, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state is 45 mm. Preferably, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state from its closed end (i.e. the bottom of the bottom portion 6) to the underside of the flange 14 is 29.65 mm.

In other embodiments, the ratio between the height of the container 2 in its fully expanded state and the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be a different value. For example, in other embodiments, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be less than or equal to three quarters of the container 2 in its fully expanded state. In other embodiments, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be less than or equal to two thirds of the container 2 in its fully expanded state. In other embodiments, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be less than or equal to half of the container 2 in its fully expanded state. In other embodiments, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be less than or equal to one third of the container 2 in its fully expanded state. In other embodiments, the height of the container 2 in its fully compressed state may be less than or equal to one quarter of the container 2 in its fully expanded state.

Preferably, the vertical height of the top portion 4 from the opening 10 to the upper surface of the flange 14 is 12 mm. Preferably, the external diameter of the flange 14 of the top portion 4 is 87 mm.

Preferably, the external diameter of the bottom portion 6 is 87 mm.

As described in more detail later below with reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, when the container is in its fully compressed state (as shown in FIG. 3), the container is filled with a foodstuff. This foodstuff is not shown in FIG. 3 and will be described in more detail later below. The container 2 may be filled with any appropriate amount of foodstuff, for example, 60 g to 70 g of the foodstuff, or 50 ml to 120 ml of the foodstuff. The volume occupied by the foodstuff is less than or equal to the volume of the fully compressed container 2.

FIG. 4 is a process flow chart showing certain steps of an embodiment of a process of packaging a foodstuff (using the container 2) for delivery to a consumer.

At step s2, the container 2 is coupled to a filling apparatus.

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus at step s2.

FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a top view the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus at step s2.

FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a cross section (taken along the dotted line X-X shown in FIG. 5) of the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus at step s2.

The filling apparatus comprises a conveyor belt 20 and two parallel rails 22.

The conveyor belt 20 is configured to move objects placed on it (i.e. the container 2) in the direction indicated in FIGS. 5 and 6 by the arrow and the reference numeral 24.

When viewed from above, i.e. as shown in FIG. 6, the conveyor belt 20 and the rails 22 are parallel. In particular, the rails 22 are parallel to the direction 24 of the conveyor belt 20. Also, when viewed from above, the distance between the rails is substantially equal to the external diameter of the opening 10 of the container 2.

When viewed from the side, i.e. as shown in FIG. 5, the height of a rail 22 above that point is substantially equal to the height of the other rail 22 above that point.

Also, when viewed from the side, the height of the rails 22 above the conveyor belt 20 reduces along the length of the conveyor belt 20 in the direction 24 of the conveyor belt 20. In particular, in this embodiment the height of the rails 22 above the conveyor belt 20 reduces from a first height 100 (the first height 100 being substantially equal to the height of the flange 14 above the bottom of the container 2 when the container is in its fully expanded state) to a second height 102 (the second height 102 being substantially equal to the height of the flange 14 above the bottom of the container 2 when the container is in its fully compressed state).

In this embodiment, at step s2, container 2 is placed upright on the conveyor belt 20 such that the bottom of the container 2 (i.e. the closed end) is in contact with the conveyor belt 20, and such that the opening 10 (at the top of the container 2) is accessible from above.

Also, in this embodiment, at step s2 the container 2 is positioned at a point along the conveyor belt where the rails 22 are at the first height 100 with respect to the conveyor belt 20. Also, in this embodiment, at step s2 the container 2 is positioned such that the rails 22 are in contact with an upper surface of the flange 14, and at opposite sides of the container 2 from one another.

At step s4, the container 2 is compressed. In this embodiment, this compression of the container 2 is performed by, using the conveyor belt 20, moving (i.e. conveying) the container 2 with respect to the rails 22 from the position where the rails 22 are at the first height 100 with respect to the conveyor belt 20, to a position where the rails 22 are at the second height 102 with respect to the conveyor belt 20.

FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus after step s4 has been performed.

FIG. 9 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a cross section (taken along the line Y-Y shown in FIG. 8) of the container 2 coupled to the filling apparatus after step s4 has been performed.

As the container 2 is moved by the conveyor belt 20 with respect to the rails 22, the height of the rails 22 above the conveyor belt 20 changes from the first height 100 to the second height 102. Thus, as the container 2 is moved by the conveyor belt 20 with respect to the rails 22, the rails 22 exert a downwards (i.e. compressive) force on the upper surface of the flange 14. This force exerted by the rails 22 is sufficient to overcome the resistive force of the intermediate portion 8 and so the container 2 is compressed into its fully compressed state.

During the compression of the container 2, air is forced out of the container 2 via the opening 10.

At step s6, whilst in its fully compressed state, the container 2 is filled with a predetermined amount of a foodstuff. In other words, a predetermined amount of a foodstuff is inserted into the fully compressed container 2.

Preferably, the predetermined amount of foodstuff is in the range 60 g to 70 g of foodstuff. The volume occupied by the predetermined amount of (dried) foodstuff is less than or equal to the volume of the container 2 in its fully compressed state.

In this embodiment, the foodstuff is a dried foodstuff. The terminology “dried foodstuff” is used herein to refer a dehydrated foodstuff or partially dehydrated foodstuff (i.e. an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff) that is to be hydrated (e.g. rehydrated) prior to consumption by a consumer. Also, in this embodiment, the foodstuff is a foodstuff that is to be heated prior to consumption by a consumer. For example, the foodstuff may be porridge oats, dried soup, dry pasta, dry couscous, dry noodles, dried rice pudding, dried risotto, etc. The foodstuff may also be a dried drink, for example dried coffee granules (e.g. freeze-dried coffee), dried tea, dried chocolate drink, etc. The foodstuff may also be a foodstuff that is to be diluted prior to consumption, e.g. a cordial or syrup. Hydration and heating of the foodstuff may be achieved by adding a hot liquid (e.g. boiling water) to the foodstuff, e.g. as described in more detail later below with reference FIG. 11.

The volume occupied by the predetermined amount of foodstuff after the foodstuff has been hydrated (e.g. rehydrated) for consumption is greater the volume of the container 2 in its fully compressed state.

At step s7, an airtight seal is applied over the opening 10 of the container 2.

In this embodiment, the airtight seal is applied by a sealing unit (not shown in the Figures). Also, in this embodiment the airtight seal is made of a coextruded paper or polyethylene film. The airtight seal is applied to the opening a using heat based adhesion process that effectively welds a part of the seal to the container rim by application of heat. In other embodiments a different type of airtight seal is used (e.g. an aluminium foil). Also, in other embodiments, a different method for affixing the seal to the container 2 is used (e.g. gluing).

The air tight seal applied at step s7 prevents air entering the container 2 (via the opening 10). Since air is prevented from entering the container 2, the container 2 is prevented from reverting to its fully expanded state. In other words, when the airtight seal is applied to the opening 10, if the compressive force applied to the container 2 by the rails 22 were to be removed, the elasticity of the intermediate portion 8 would attempt to revert the container 2 back to its original (expanded) state. This would lower the air pressure inside the container 2 relative to the air pressure on the outside of the container 2. This relatively high air pressure on the outside of the container 2 would hold the container 2 in its compressed state.

At step s8, a rigid plastic lid is screwed onto the screw-threaded portion 12 of the container 2. Thus, packaging containing the foodstuff is formed.

FIG. 10 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of an exploded view the packaging containing the foodstuff 28.

The packaging comprises the container 2 (in its compressed state), the airtight seal 30, and the lid 32.

The foodstuff 28 is positioned inside the compressed container 2, i.e. inside the cavity of the container 2 whilst in its compressed state.

The airtight seal 30 seals the opening 10 of the container 2, thereby keeping the container 2 in its compressed state. The container 2 is kept in its compressed state as long as the airtight seal 30 remains intact, i.e. prevents air entering the container 2 via the opening 10.

The lid 32 comprises an internal screw threaded portion (not shown). The lid 32 is screwed onto the screw-threaded portion 12 of the compressed container 2. The lid 32 advantageously tends to prevent damage to, or tampering with, the airtight seal 30. In particular, the lid 32 tends to prevent the airtight seal 30 being comprised and undesirably permitting air to enter to container 2 (and thereby allowing the container 2 to revert back to its expanded state).

In this embodiment, the lid 32 further comprises a plurality of ridges 34 around its circumference. These ridges 34 advantageously tend to facilitate the gripping of the lid 32 by a consumer to aid the removal of the lid 32 from the container 2. However, in other embodiments, the lid 32 does not comprise such ridges, i.e. the lid 32 is smooth.

The lid 32 provides a further airtight seal for the container 2. Thus, either one of the lid 32 or the airtight seal 30 may be removed and the container 2 will remain in its fully compressed state (because the other of the airtight seal 30 or lid 32 is remains intact thereby preventing the expansion of the container 2).

At step s10, the packaging containing the foodstuff 28 is removed from the filling apparatus for delivery to a consumer. The packaging remains in its fully compressed state as the airtight seal 30 prevents air entering the container 2 through the opening 10.

Prior to delivery to the consumer, the packaging may, for example, by covered by a decorative sleeve that may comprise e.g. instructions for use, nutritional information etc.

Thus, a process of packaging a foodstuff 28 (using the container 2) is provided.

FIG. 11 is a process flow chart showing certain steps of an example process by which a consumer may use the packaging and foodstuff 28 provided therein.

At step s20, the consumer removes, by unscrewing, the lid 32 from the container 2.

At step s22, the consumer removes the airtight seal 30 from the container 2.

At step s24, the container 2 reverts to its original expanded form.

In particular, the elasticity of the intermediate portion 8 causes the intermediate portion 8 to extend (moving apart the top and bottom portions 4, 6). This expansion draws air into the container 2 from outside the container, through the opening 10 (from which the seal 30 has been removed). The intermediate portion 8 expands until the container 2 is in its original fully expanded state.

At step s26, the consumer adds a pre-determined amount of a hot liquid to the container 2.

The pre-determined amount of the hot liquid is an amount sufficient to hydrate the foodstuff 28. The pre-determined amount of hot liquid may be indicated to the consumer in any appropriate way, for example, by a mark on the surface of the container 2 to which the container 2 is to be filled with hot liquid (i.e. a “fill level” marker).

Thus, at step s26, the foodstuff 26 is hydrated and heated inside the container 2.

In this embodiment, the volume occupied by the predetermined amount of the foodstuff 28 after it has been hydrated with a (further) predetermined amount of liquid is less than or equal to the volume of the container 2 in its fully expanded state.

Furthermore, in this embodiment, the volume occupied by the predetermined amount of the foodstuff 28 after it has been hydrated with the (further) predetermined amount of liquid is greater than the volume of the container 2 in its fully compressed state.

The consumer, at step s26, may replace the screw lid 32 onto the container 2 and leave the foodstuff 28 to stand (i.e. to “cook”) for a certain time period. The replacement of the lid 32 advantageously tends to prevent spillage of the heated and hydrated foodstuff 28 during the cooking process, and also tends to prevent the heated and hydrated foodstuff 28 cooling too much before consumption.

At step s28, the consumer consumes the contents of the container 2 (i.e. the hydrated and heated foodstuff 28) from the container 2.

The container 2 advantageously provides a vessel from which the hydrated foodstuff 28 may be consumed.

Thus, a method of use by a consumer is provided.

The container being made of LDPE advantageously tends to provide that the container is sufficiently flexible to allow for relatively easy compression (from the fully expanded state to the fully compressed state). Also, the container being made of LDPE advantageously tends to provide that the container is sufficiently elastic to provide that the intermediate portion of the container reverts the container back to its original expanded state from a compressed state when a compressive force is removed from the container.

Advantageously, the wall thickness of the container is such that the container is sufficiently flexible to allow for relatively easy compression (from the fully expanded state to the fully compressed state). Also, advantageously the wall thickness of the container is such that container is sufficiently elastic to provide that the intermediate portion of the container reverts the container back to its original expanded state from a compressed state when a compressive force is removed from the container. Preferably, the wall thickness of the container 2 is 0.75 mm and 1.5 mm.

The container is advantageously recyclable.

The container is advantageously reusable. For example, after the foodstuff has been consumed, the container may be recompressed and refilled, and an airtight seal (e.g. the screw lid) reapplied. The reapplied airtight seal prevents air entering into the container, thereby keeping the container in its recompressed (e.g. fully compressed) state.

Preferably, the height of the container in its fully compressed state (i.e. the height of the packaging containing the foodstuff) is less than or equal to 45 mm. This advantageously provides that the packaging containing the foodstuff is space-efficient in the vertical direction. Thus, for example, the packaging containing foodstuff tends to be compatible with food trays used to serve food to customers onboard commercial aircraft. Such airline food-trays typically do not contain food packaging that is above 45 mm in height. This is so that the food trays can be stowed on board the aircraft easily.

The volume of the container in its fully compressed state (i.e. the volume of the packaging containing the foodstuff when it is delivered/transported to the consumer) is relatively small compared to the volume of the container in its fully expanded form (i.e. the volume of the container when the foodstuff is consumed by the consumer). Thus, prior to consumption, the packaging tends to be relatively space efficient and compact. In other words, space requirements for storage and/or transport of the packaging containing the foodstuff tend to be advantageously reduced.

Furthermore, in the compressed state, the packaging containing the foodstuff tends to be advantageously portable e.g. by a consumer. Thus, the packaging containing the foodstuff may easily be transported by the consumer e.g. to work etc.

The container having an expanded state advantageously provides that a vessel that is large enough to contain the hydrated foodstuff is supplied to the consumer. Thus, the consumer may conveniently use the container to consume the hydrated foodstuff from.

The airtight seal provided by the airtight seal 30 and the lid 32 advantageously provides that the foodstuff is kept relatively fresh (and free from contamination) prior to consumption by the consumer.

The above described filling apparatus advantageously tends to provide for a continuous production line. This tends to be an efficient manufacturing method.

The volume of the container in its expanded state may advantageously be such that the hydrated and heated foodstuff does not extend above the intermediate portion. In such a case, the non-extendable top portion of the container advantageously an area that the consumer may grip the container without experiencing discomfort from the heat of the hydrated and heated foodstuff.

It should be noted that certain of the process steps depicted in the flowcharts of FIGS. 4 and 11 and described above may be omitted or such process steps may be performed in differing order to that presented above and shown in those Figures. Furthermore, although all the process steps have, for convenience and ease of understanding, been depicted as discrete temporally-sequential steps, nevertheless some of the process steps may in fact be performed simultaneously or at least overlapping to some extent temporally.

In the above embodiments, the container is generally cylindrical in shape, made of LDPE, and may be made using any appropriate process, e.g. blow-moulding. However, in other embodiments, the container may be a different shape (e.g. a cuboid) and/or made of a different appropriate material. For example, the container may be made of silicon. This is advantageously flexible and heat resistant. Furthermore, in other embodiments, the container may be made using a different process.

In other embodiments, the container may be made of a mixture of two or more different materials. Also, in other embodiments, the container may be made of a compound of two or more different materials. For example, in other embodiments, the container is made of a compound of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). If the container is made of a compound of LDPE and HDPE, preferably the compound comprises 5-10% HDPE and 90-95% LDPE. More preferably, the compound comprises 7% HDPE and 93% LDPE. The container being made of a compound of LDPE and HDPE advantageously tends to increase the stiffness of the container such that the container is sufficiently flexible to allow for relatively easy compression (from the fully expanded state to the fully compressed state). Also, the container being made of a compound of LDPE and HDPE advantageously tends to provide that the container is sufficiently elastic to provide that the intermediate portion of the container reverts the container back to its original expanded state from a compressed state when a compressive force is removed from the container. Also, the container being made of a compound of LDPE and HDPE advantageously tends to provide that the container is stiffer (more rigid) than if the container is made of LDPE alone. This tends to provide that, e.g. during the filling process described herein, deformation of the container other than that desired (i.e. other than the deformation of the intermediate portion during compression of the container from its fully expanded state to the fully compressed state) is reduced or eliminated. For example, deformation of the top and bottom portions of the container tends not to occur (e.g. during filling).

In the above embodiments, the container is elastic, i.e. when the container has been compressed into its fully compressed state, and a compressive force that compressed the container is removed from the container, the container expands back to its fully expanded state (due to the elasticity of the intermediate portion). However, in other embodiments, the container is not elastic. In other words, when the container has been compressed into its fully compressed state, and a compressive force that compressed the container is removed from the container, the container does not automatically expand back to its fully expanded state, and instead remains in its compressed state. In this case, the container may be changed from its fully compressed state back to its fully expanded state by applying an expansive force (sufficient to overcome the resistive force of the intermediate portion, i.e. to overcome the resilience of the intermediate portion) to move the top portion and the bottom portion apart. In such further embodiments, the container does not revert to its expanded state when the airtight seal is removed (at step s24 of the process of FIG. 11). Instead, the volume of the container may be expanded by the consumer by applying an expansive force to the container.

In embodiments in which the container is not elastic, the seal (provided by the seal 30 and/or the lid 32) may not be airtight, i.e. the seal may be a different type of closure for closing the opening of the container. For example, a closure may allow air into the container, but prevent the consumable falling out of the container, e.g. the seal may be a perforated closure. In these embodiments, the seal/closure is for preventing the consumable leaving, e.g. being removed from, the container.

In the above embodiments, expansion/compression of the container is provided by the intermediate portion of the container (i.e. the bellows-like portion of the container disposed between the top and bottom portions). However, in other embodiments, this expansion/compression functionality is provided by different means, for example a telescopic structure. In other embodiments, the intermediate portion may comprise a different number, and/or different size of tapered rings (i.e. a different number or different size of concertinas/folds).

In the above embodiments, the container has the dimensions described above with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3. However, in other embodiments, the container has different dimensions. For example, in other embodiments the container is large enough to contain an amount of foodstuff that would feed a relatively large number of people. Such containers may, for example, be used by charities, the military etc.

In the above embodiments, the foodstuff is packaged using the container as described above with reference to FIGS. 4-10. The filling apparatus comprises a conveyor belt a two rails. These elements apply a compressive force to the container whilst it is filled. However, in other embodiments the foodstuff is packaged using the container using a different method. Also, in other embodiments, a different filling apparatus comprising one or more different elements may be used. For example, a filling apparatus that comprises clamping means to apply a compressive force to the container whilst it is filled may be implemented.

In the above embodiments, the foodstuff is a dried (i.e. dehydrated or partially dehydrated foodstuff) that is to be hydrated (e.g. rehydrated, diluted etc.) prior to consumption by a consumer. Hydration of the foodstuff may be achieved by adding a liquid (e.g. boiling water or stock) to the foodstuff. However, in other embodiments a different consumable is used other than a foodstuff. The different consumable is to be hydrated prior to consumption by a consumer. For example, the consumable may be a medicine that is to be hydrated (e.g. with water) before being consumed by, e.g. a patient. Also for example, the consumable may be a paint powder or concentrated paint that is to be mixed with, e.g., water or white spirit prior to use by an artist. In some embodiments, the consumable contained within the container is a liquid, e.g. a liquid having the viscosity of water, or a higher viscosity such as syrup.

In the above embodiments, the packaging comprises a seal 30 and a screw lid 32. Both of these elements provide an airtight seal for the container while the container is in its fully compressed state. However, in other embodiments, the airtight seal for the container is provided by only one of the airtight seal 30 or the lid 32.

In other embodiments, an airtight seal for the container is provided by different means.

In other embodiments the lid is a different type of lid. For example, in other embodiments a lid for the container may be provided by a further container (e.g. a relatively rigid container made of plastic, for example polyethylene). The further container may attach to the container by attaching (e.g. clipping to the flange of the container, e.g. using a plurality of protrusions). The further container may be used to contain a consumable, e.g. a further foodstuff. The further foodstuff may be sealed in the further container by means of a further airtight seal. The further foodstuff may be, for example, a foodstuff that is not to be hydrated prior to consumption. For example, the further foodstuff may be dried fruit, dry granola mixes, nuts, liquid honey, liquid coulis, liquid sauce, etc. that may be added to the hydrated foodstuff in the container.

In such further embodiments, the volume occupied by the combination of the predetermined amount of foodstuff after it has been hydrated with a predetermined amount of liquid and the further foodstuff is less than or equal to the volume of the container in its fully expanded state.

In such further embodiments, the container advantageously provides a vessel from which the combination of the hydrated and heated foodstuff and the further foodstuff may be consumed. This is provided by the container, in its expanded state, being of sufficient size (i.e. having sufficient volume) to contain the combination of the hydrated and heated foodstuff and the further foodstuff.

The two separate containers advantageously tend to provide that two different types of foodstuff may be provided together (i.e. as a single product). The two different types of foodstuff may be sealed in a respective container. Thus, prior to use by the consumer, the two different types of foodstuff are kept separate. Thus, different types of food stuff that are to be processed using different methods, by a consumer, prior to consumption may advantageously be provided together (i.e. as a single product). The two different types of foodstuff provided together in the above embodiments are a dehydrated, or dried, foodstuff that is to be hydrated and heated prior to consumption, and a further foodstuff that is not to be hydrated prior to consumption.

The two separate containers may be attached together in such a way that that, prior to use by the consumer, the separation of the containers is opposed. Thus the contents of the first and second containers tend to be kept together prior to use by the consumer (and supplied to the consumer together as a single product). The further container may be made of a clear material. Thus, a consumer may be able to see the contents on the second container. Thus, a consumer may be able, for example, to distinguish between different varieties of a product.

In the above embodiments, the container has the shape and dimensions described above with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3. However, in other embodiments, the container has different shape and/or dimensions. For example, in other embodiments the container has the shape and dimensions shown in FIGS. 12 and 13. Also, in other embodiments the container has the shape and dimensions shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 (which are described in more detail later below after the description of FIGS. 12 and 13).

FIG. 12 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of a further container 100 in its fully expanded state.

FIG. 13 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the further container 100 in its fully compressed state.

Features common to both the container 2 and the further container 100 are indicated by the same reference numerals.

FIGS. 12 and 13 indicate the dimensions of the further container 100 in this further embodiment.

Preferably, the height of the further container 100 in its fully expanded state is in the range 70 mm to 90 mm. More preferably, the height of the further container 100 in its fully expanded state is 75.9 mm. Preferably, the volume of the further container 100 in its fully expanded state is approximately 355 ml.

Preferably, the height of the further container 100 in its fully compressed state is in the range 40 mm to 50 mm. More preferably, the height of the further container 100 in its fully compressed state is 45 mm.

The further container 100 comprises a shoulder 15 between its top portion 4 and its intermediate portion 8. In the further container 100, this shoulder 15 replaces the flange 14 of the container 2. This shoulder 15 serves the same purpose as the flange 14 of the container 2, i.e. providing a surface upon which a downwards compressive force may be applied to compress the container. In other embodiments, a container may have any such structure that provides such a surface.

Preferably, the height of the further container 100 in its fully compressed state from its closed end (i.e. the bottom of the bottom portion 6) to the shoulder 15 is 30.85 mm.

In other embodiments, the ratio between the height of the further container 100 in its fully expanded state and the height of the further container 100 in its fully compressed state may be a different value.

Preferably, the vertical height of the top portion 4 of the further container 100 from the opening 10 to the shoulder 15 is 11.80 mm.

Preferably, the external diameter of the shoulder 15 is substantially equal to the external diameter of the intermediate portion 8 (at the widest point of the intermediate portion 8). Preferably, this dimension is 87.0 mm.

Preferably, the external diameter of the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100, at the point where the bottom portion 6 meets the intermediate portion 8, is 87.0 mm. Also, preferably the external diameter of the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100, at the closed end or the further container 100, is less than 87.0 mm. Thus, in this embodiment, the shape of the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 is that of a dish (i.e. the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 is dish-shaped).

An advantage provided by the further container 100 is that the both the top portion 4 and bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 tend to be relatively rigid. Thus, during the compression (e.g. as performed during the process of FIG. 4), only the intermediate portion 8 of the further container 100 tends to be compressed. This increased rigidity of the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 tends to result from its shape (i.e. the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 having a dish-like shape that, at its closed-end, is smaller in diameter than the intermediate portion 8, and that tapers outwards towards its open end where it meets the intermediate portion 8). This tends to provide that the further container 100 compresses more evenly when a downwards compressive force is applied.

Furthermore, the shape of the bottom portion 6 of the further container 100 tends to facilitate the production of the further container 100 having walls of a desired thickness. For example, it tends to be easier to achieve a relatively uniform wall-thickness when moulding the further container 100 than when moulding containers having a different shape.

A further advantage provided by the further container 100 is that the further container 100 tends to compress more evenly than differently shaped containers. Furthermore, the further container tends to have a desired elasticity, i.e. strong enough to provide that the container may expand unaided from its compressed state to its uncompressed state, but not so strong as to hinder the sealing of the container when in its compressed state. Nevertheless, in other embodiments, containers having different shapes and/or dimensions to those described in the embodiments above may be used.

FIG. 14 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of a second further container 102 in its fully expanded state.

FIG. 15 is a schematic illustration (not to scale) of a side view of the second further container 102 in its fully compressed state.

Features common to both the container 2 and the second further container 102 are indicated by the same reference numerals.

FIGS. 14 and 15 indicate the dimensions of the second further container 102 in this further embodiment.

Preferably, the height of the second further container 102 in its fully expanded state is in the range 70 mm to 90 mm. More preferably, the height of the second further container 102 in its fully expanded state is 74.6 mm.

Preferably, the volume of the second further container 102 in its fully expanded state is approximately 355 ml.

Preferably, the height of the second further container 102 in its fully compressed state is in the range 40 mm to 50 mm. More preferably, the height of the second further container 102 in its fully compressed state is approximately 41 mm.

The second further container 102 may comprises a shoulder 15 between its top portion 4 and its intermediate portion 8. In the second further container 102, this shoulder 15 replaces the flange 14 of the container 2. This shoulder 15 serves the same purpose as the flange 14 of the container 2, i.e. providing a surface upon which a downwards compressive force may be applied to compress the container (e.g. during the filling process). In other embodiments, a container may have any such structure that provides such a surface. Preferably, the external diameter of the shoulder 15 is 91.0 mm.

Preferably, the height of the second further container 102 in its fully compressed state from its closed end (i.e. the bottom of the bottom portion 6) to the shoulder 15 is 30.85 mm.

In other embodiments, the ratio between the height of the second further container 102 in its fully expanded state and the height of the second further container 102 in its fully compressed state may be a different value.

Preferably, the diameter of the opening 10 is 76.0 mm. Also, preferably the external diameter of the top portion 4 of the second further container is approximately 86.0 mm. Thus, at its top end, surrounding its opening 10, the second further container 102 may have a sealing rim 104 (with a thickness of approximately 5 mm). This sealing rim 104 advantageously tends to provide a surface upon which a downwards compressive force may be applied to compress the container (e.g. during the filling process). Thus, in some embodiments, a container may comprise such a sealing rim 104 instead of a flange 14 and/or a shoulder 15 (i.e. the sealing rim 104 may serve the same purpose as the flange 14 of the container 2, or the shoulder 15, and a container may not comprise a flange 14 or shoulder 15). Furthermore, the increased thickness of the sealing rim 104 of the second further container 102 (compared to the thickness of the rim in the first embodiment) tends to provide that the sealing of the second further container 102 is easier (e.g. during filling) and that a stronger sealing may be applied.

In this embodiment, the top portion 4 of the second further container comprises a plurality of annular ridges 106. A lid for the second further container may clip over these annular ridges 106. In other words, the second further container 102 may have a “press-on” or “push-on” lid as opposed to a screw-on lid. It will be appreciated by the person skilled in the art that any of the containers described herein may have a lid that attaches to the container in any appropriate way (e.g. a push-on lid, a screw-on lid, etc.).

Preferably, the external diameter of the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102, at the point where the bottom portion 6 meets the intermediate portion 8, is 86.9 mm. Also, preferably the external diameter of the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102, at the closed end or the second further container 102, is less than 86.9 mm. Thus, in this embodiment, the shape of the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 is that of a dish (i.e. the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 is dish-shaped).

An advantage provided by the second further container 102 is that the both the top portion 4 and bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 tend to be relatively rigid. Thus, during the compression (e.g. as performed during the process of FIG. 4), only the intermediate portion 8 of the second further container 102 tends to be compressed. This increased rigidity of the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 tends to result from its shape (i.e. the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 having a dish-like shape that, at its closed-end, is smaller in diameter than the intermediate portion 8, and that tapers outwards towards its open end where it meets the intermediate portion 8). This tends to provide that the second further container 102 compresses more evenly when a downwards compressive force is applied.

Furthermore, the shape of the bottom portion 6 of the second further container 102 tends to facilitate the production of the second further container 102 having walls of a desired thickness. For example, it tends to be easier to achieve a relatively uniform wall-thickness when moulding the second further container 102 than when moulding containers having a different shape.

A further advantage provided by the second further container 102 is that the second further container 102 tends to compress more evenly than differently shaped containers. Furthermore, the further container tends to have a desired elasticity, i.e. strong enough to provide that the container may expand unaided from its compressed state to its uncompressed state, but not so strong as to hinder the sealing of the container when in its compressed state. Nevertheless, in other embodiments, containers having different shapes and/or dimensions to those described in the embodiments above may be used.

In the above embodiments, the container may be filled with the foodstuff (i.e. the foodstuff is packaged for delivery to a consumer) using the process described above with reference to FIG. 4. However, in other embodiments, a different process may be used. For example, when filling the further container 100 that is described in more detail above with reference to FIGS. 12 and 13, the further container 100 may be compressed by exerting a downwards force on the shoulder 15 of the further container 100 using a ring-shaped member. This advantageously tends to provide a relatively even compressive force to the further container 100 (such a process may also be used on different containers, e.g. the container 2 described above with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3). The further container 100 may then be filled and sealed, e.g., as described above with reference to steps s6 to s10 of FIG. 4. Alternatively, a reel-fed sealing film may be applied to the opening 10 of the further container 100 to seal the further container 100 and keep it in its compressed state. A lid may then be applied e.g. to provide an additional airtight seal and/or to protect the seal from accidental piercing.

Claims

1. Packaging containing an amount of a consumable, the packaging containing an amount of a consumable comprising:

a container comprising an opening; and
a closure closing the opening; wherein
the container and the closure define a cavity having a first volume;
the consumable is located in the cavity;
the container is expandable such that the container may be expanded to have a second volume; and
the second volume is greater than the first volume.

2. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 1, wherein the closure is an airtight seal.

3. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 2, wherein the container is expandable such that, on breaking the airtight seal, the container may be expanded to have the second volume.

4. Packaging containing an amount of a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the consumable is to be combined with an amount of liquid, and the second volume is greater than or equal to a volume occupied by the combination of the amount of the consumable and the amount of the liquid.

5. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 2 to 4, wherein the container further comprises:

a closed end; and
an elastic side wall disposed between the opening and the closed end; wherein
the elastic side wall is in a compressed state;
the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity such that, on at least partially removing the seal from the opening, the elastic side wall expands, unaided, from the compressed state to an uncompressed state; and
when the elastic side wall is in the uncompressed state, the container has the second volume.

6. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 5, wherein the elastic side wall is compressible along its length such that the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its uncompressed state is larger than the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its compressed state.

7. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the elastic side wall comprises a bellows-like structure.

8. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 5 to 7, the container further comprising a non-expandable top portion disposed between the open end and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

9. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 8, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises a flange or shoulder.

10. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 8 or 9, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises an externally screw-threaded portion for receiving an internally screw-threaded lid.

11. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 5 to 10, the container further comprising a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall, the bottom portion being contiguous with the closed end.

12. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 11, wherein the container is made of a heat resistant material.

13. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 12, wherein the container is made of a compound comprising low density polyethylene and high density polyethylene.

14. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 13, wherein, prior to being expanded, the height of the container is between 40 mm and 50 mm.

15. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 14, wherein the container is expandable such that the height of the container is between 80 mm and 90 mm.

16. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 15, wherein the consumable is selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

17. Packaging containing a consumable according to claim 16, wherein the consumable is an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

18. A method of packaging an amount of a consumable, the method comprising:

providing a container having an opening;
at least partially filling the container with the consumable; and
closing, with a closure, the container with the consumable inside it such that the container and the closure define a cavity having a first volume, and the consumable is located in the cavity; wherein
the container is expandable such that the container may be expanded to have a second volume; and
the second volume is greater than the first volume.

19. A method according to claim 18, wherein the closure is an airtight seal.

20. A method according to claim 18, wherein the container is expandable such that, on breaking the airtight seal, the container may be expanded to have the second volume.

21. A method according to any of claims 18 to 20, wherein the consumable is to be combined with an amount of liquid, and the second volume is greater than or equal to a volume occupied by the combination of the amount of the consumable and the amount of the liquid.

22. A method according to any of claims 19 to 21, wherein the container further comprises:

a closed end; and
an elastic side wall disposed between the opening and the closed end; wherein
the elastic side wall is in a compressed state;
the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity such that, on at least partially removing the seal from the opening, the elastic side wall expands, unaided, from the compressed state to an uncompressed state; and
when the elastic side wall is in the uncompressed state, the container has the second volume.

23. A method according to claim 22, wherein the elastic side wall is compressible along its length such that the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its uncompressed state is larger than the height of the container when the elastic side wall is in its compressed state.

24. A method according to claim 22 or 23, wherein the step of providing a container comprises compressing the container such that the elastic side wall is in the compressed state.

25. A method according to any of claims 22 to 24, wherein the elastic side wall comprises a bellows-like structure.

26. A method according to any of claims 22 to 25, the container further comprising a non-expandable top portion disposed between the open end and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

27. A method according to claim 26 when dependent on 24, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises a flange or shoulder, and the step of compressing the container is performed by applying a force to the flange or shoulder.

28. A method according to claim 26 or 27, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises an externally screw-threaded portion, and the step of closing comprises screwing an internally screw-threaded lid onto the externally screw-threaded portion.

29. A method according to any of claims 22 to 28, the container further comprising a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall.

30. A method according to any of claims 18 to 29, wherein the container is made of a heat resistant material.

31. A method according to any of claims 18 to 30, wherein the container is made of low density polyethylene.

32. A method according to any of claims 18 to 31, wherein, prior to being expanded, the height of the container is between 40 mm and 50 mm.

33. A method according to any of claims 18 to 32, wherein the container is expandable such that the height of the container is between 70 mm and 90 mm.

34. A method according to any of claims 18 to 33, wherein the consumable is selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

35. A method according to claim 34, wherein the consumable is an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

36. An expandable container for a consumable, the container comprising:

an open end;
a closed end; and
an elastic side wall disposed between the open end and the closed end; wherein
the elastic side wall is compressible between an original position and a compressed position such that the container may be changed between having a first height and a second height, the second height being less than the first height;
the elastic side wall has sufficient elasticity to return to the original position unaided.

37. An expandable container according to claim 36, wherein the elastic side wall comprises a bellows-like structure.

38. An expandable container according claim 36 or 37, the container further comprising a non-expandable top portion disposed between the opening and the elastic side wall, the top portion being contiguous with the opening.

39. An expandable container according to claim 38, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises a flange or shoulder.

40. An expandable container according to claim 38 or 39, wherein the non-expandable top portion comprises an externally screw-threaded portion for receiving an internally screw-threaded lid.

41. An expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 40, the container further comprising a non-expandable bottom portion disposed between the closed end and the elastic side wall, the bottom portion being contiguous with the closed end.

42. An expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 41, wherein the container is made of a heat resistant material.

43. An expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 42, wherein the container is made of low density polyethylene.

44. An expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 43, wherein, when the elastic side wall is in its original position, the height of the container is between 70 mm and 90 mm.

45. An expandable container according to claim 43, wherein, when the elastic side wall is in its original position, the height of the container is 80 mm.

46. An expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 45, wherein, when the elastic side wall is in its compressed position, the height of the container is between 40 mm and 50 mm.

47. An expandable container according to claim 46, wherein, when the elastic side wall is in its compressed position, the height of the container is 45 mm.

48. A method of packaging a consumable, the method comprising:

providing an expandable container, the container being in accordance with any of claims 36 to 47;
compressing the container such that the elastic side wall is in the compressed position;
at least partially filling the container with an amount of the consumable; and
whilst the elastic side wall is in the compressed position, closing the container with the predetermined amount of the consumable inside it.

49. A method according to claim 48, wherein the consumable is selected from a group consisting of a foodstuff, a medicine, paint and powdered paint.

50. A method according to claim 49, wherein the consumable is an at least partially dehydrated foodstuff.

51. A method according to any of claims 48 to 50, wherein the step of closing is performed by means of an airtight seal applied over the open end of the container.

52. A method according to any of claims 48 to 51 when dependent on claim 40, the step of closing comprises screwing an internally screw-threaded lid onto the externally screw-threaded portion.

53. A method according to any of claims 48 to 52 when dependent on claim 39, the step of compressing the container comprises applying a force to the flange or shoulder.

54. Packaging containing a consumable according to any of claims 1 to 17, wherein the container is an expandable container according to any of claims 36 to 47.

55. Packaging containing a consumable substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying figures.

56. An expandable container substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying figures.

57. A method of packaging a consumable substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying figures.

Patent History

Publication number: 20150034661
Type: Application
Filed: Jan 23, 2013
Publication Date: Feb 5, 2015
Inventors: Helen Cooper (Haslemere), Gavin Cooper (Haslemere)
Application Number: 14/374,974