In this article, we explore the latest meat packaging trends and innovations in response to increased consumer demand for improved sustainability, better quality, and more convenience.
As consumers throughout the world look for convenient, easy-to-prepare food that is healthy at the same time, the demand for more sustainable packaging of meat products continues. This represents an ideal opportunity for meat and poultry brands to get innovative with convenient and attractive meat packaging that prolongs flavor and reduces food waste.
Here are 4 meat packaging innovations in 2021 to watch out for:
Vacuum Skin Packaging
Both the shelf life and presentation of the actual meat products have a strong influence on the in-store consumer “to buy/ or do not buy” decision as well as the at-home to consume/or do not consume choice.
The use of vacuum skin packaging promises a longer shelf life and a better cooking experience that leads to reduced food waste as the meat continues to mature inside the packaging. The rise of vacuum skin packaging is a key meat packaging trend to watch out for.
Vacuum skin packaging reduces the need for protective fillers, making it a superior and cost-effective option compared to other food packaging methods.
MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) processes are used to adjust air composition inside the packaging, reducing oxygen levels thereby limiti9ng the potential for microbial growth and oxidation. The operation is performed mechanically by a machine that is designed to remove the ambient atmospherics surrounding the food and replace it with a low oxygen/gas mix.
With VSP processes the ambient air surrounding the meat is removed but is not replaced with another gas/air mixture. This process eliminates or significantly reduces the risk of food products being exposed to any oxygen. It also allows the food to closely adhere to the protective film and tray, thereby reducing the risk of physically damaging the food and extending its shelf life. By increasing the shelf life of food products, skin packaging helps to further maintain the quality and flavor of meat products.
Vacuum and second-skin meat packaging such as Amcor’s SkinTite materials maintain a much higher barrier against water vapour and oxygen compared to MAPP processes. This allows for up to 20% longer shelf-life, no drips or leakages, and even further reduction in food waste.
More Sustainable Packaging Options
Today’s consumers are more sophisticated and prefer to make more sustainable and responsible food choices without having to sacrifice on product quality. The ongoing consumer and retailer demand for more sustainable food packaging products has prompted the development of recyclable food packaging solutions. In 2019 the retailer Asda in the UK moved its entire steak range from plastic to recyclable meat trays. In line with this retailer’s commitment to “use less and recycle more”, more than 23 million black plastic meat trays were removed across their Butcher’s Selection, Extra Special, and Farm Store lines. According to Asda, this move will eliminate the use of about 700 tonnes of plastic trays annually.
Our recent research conducted on the sustainability preferences of European consumers showed that consumers are becoming a lot more conscious and discerning about their choice of packaging and 83% said they check the instructions on the packaging to find out how to correctly dispose of different packaging materials.
Developing more sustainable packaging solutions demonstrates your commitment to environmental goals and is an excellent opportunity for your brand to connect with consumers who are conscious of the need for sustainable packaging products.
At Amcor, we recently launched our Eco-Tite® R packaging. This is the first ‘designed-to-be-recycled’ shrink bag that is PVDC-free for packaging fresh and processed products like meat, poultry, and certain cheeses.
In addition to innovative transparent labeling, Amcor expects to see more innovative meat packaging designs in the near future.
With the sharp increase in online food shopping, meat companies have to ensure that their packaging is not only eye-catching both on-shelf and online, but also sustainably designed and developed to attract a new breed of conscious consumers. In fact, according to Midan’s September 2020 Covid19 survey, more than one-third of meat consumers said that online purchasing would be their primary method of purchasing meat even after Covid19.