Ask any internet-savvy home cook: for every Pinterest board showcasing complex dinner party showstoppers, there are dozens more that link to 30-minute meals, one-pan wonders, and three-ingredient masterpieces. Trends focused on quick and easy meal preparation have led to greater demand for food products that help to take the frustration out of the cooking process.
One of the grocery store that has responded is the meat department. Retailers are shrinking down meat packages and adding new lines of precooked and preseasoned products in convenient and ready-to-use formats that can be priced at a premium. All of this means greater profits for retailers, food manufacturers, and, of course, manufacturers of meat and poultry packaging products.
Rigid Packaging Finds Growth in Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Heat Sectors
Fresh-prepared foods, like rotisserie and fried chicken sold at the deli counter, are one of the fastest growing areas for foodservice sales in the US. The bulk of this may be attributed to mainstays like sandwiches, but grocery stores are working to expand offerings to fit with the more refined palate of today’s consumers.
Doing so requires packaging that can help the products look good even when they’ve been sitting under the warmer for 10 hours. With hot foods, many retailers use domed plastic containers or trays with special coatings that resist the fogging that comes from packaging hot foods, allowing the product to be seen clearly.
Processed food companies are also looking to get in on the action by offering family-sized heatable entrees that are refrigerated instead of frozen. With convenience of preparation being a major marketing advantage, these products are often able to be heated in their containers. This development has led to new opportunities for plastic and aluminum foil containers that can withstand high temperatures.
Pouches See New Opportunities in Fresh, Processed Meat Markets
There are a number of reasons why pouches are poised to gain the most from trends favoring convenience. Pouches are practically synonymous with storage efficiency and frustration-free opening and disposal. They’ve taken over the freezer section and many products that used to be served up in a carton with a bag inside to help preserve freshness are now being sold in pouches with high-quality graphics and reclosable features.
Food manufacturers are introducing meat items that are fully cooked and ready to add to salads or entrees in pouches in order to lower cost and increase ease of use. And consumers like the new format. Perdue Foods changed the packaging for its Perdue Short Cuts, which are grilled and seasoned chicken breast products, and have seen profits and unit sales rise as a result of the better price point and increased marketability of pouch packaging.
Pouches have also been gaining ground in some surprising markets, like in the packaging of fresh chicken. Individually wrapped chicken breasts packaged in vacuum-sealed pouches are seeing more use from small families or singles who want to prepare their own meals, but don’t need a pound of chicken breast to do so. These products give people the flexibility to only thaw and use what they need, therefore reducing waste.
For More Information…
To find out more about these and other trends in the meat and poultry packaging market, check out the market research reports on Meat Packaging in the US and Poultry Packaging in the US by the Freedonia Group.
About the Author:
Katie Wieser is an industry analyst at The Freedonia Group, where she writes industry studies focused on the packaging market.