Adding Value through Packaging13 May 2012
Convenience, shelf presence, food safety, cost, functionality and sustainability are all the main driving forces for innovative food packaging, writes Chris Harris.
According to Andrew Streeter from DataMonitor packaging is a major force in commerce and one of the major factors driving new packaging ideas is shelf presence - the ability to attract the consumer's eye.
However, the retailer and processor are also concerned about the cost of the products and how safe the package will keep the product. These two issues are also closely connected to the sustainability of the product and processing companies are now looking to alternative raw materials to replace non-sustainable or less sustainable base products. In some instances papier maché is replacing cellulose.
However, Mr Streeter, speaking at a seminar during the recent Anuga FoodTec exhibition in Germany, said that fundamentally packaging is being driven by convenience.
Processors are looking for packaging that is now biodegradable, but that is also light in weight. Packaging manufacturers are switch formulas for the materials to make the product more sustainable and also to lower material costs.
Mr Streeter said that packaging is also under considerable pressure from forces outside of the industry, but the manufacturers are responding to and adapting to these forces.
He said the meat industry can use the forces that are changing packaging models to enhance the commercial security of their products. Packaging has got to be seen as more than just something to protect the product and for food safety.
Meat packaging has moved beyond the steel can, Mr Streeter said. It has seen re-closable packs that have given meat products a snacking functionality.
By having packaging that can move the image of the product from the factory to the farm, the image of the product can be changed as well.
The pack can help to place the product in a quality market so adding value to the meat product.
He added that by having packaged that stand out and even stand up on the store shelf, the meat product can have greater visual impact on the consumer and greater store presence.
"Just by changing the shape of the pack, you can give a product shelf presence," said Mr Streeter.
Mr Streeter added that there was now evidence that packs for meat products are becoming more functional so that meat is now moving from being production driven to consumer driven.
The meat that is seen in a tray in the supermarket shelf is not much of a marketing move from the meat that is displayed I n the butcher's shop window, but, Mr Streeter said, prepacked meats are now moving away from this image, even though it is slowly.
He added that the use of flow wrapping and gas flushing is also adding sustainability to the product and pack that have added colour to the trays to contrast the meat colour are starting to present products with a certain market appeal. The addition of surface branding is taking that marketing a step further.
However, in the mail uncooked meat products tend to remain commodity products on the supermarket shelf at present, with packaging only for protection and to contain and not for marketing purposes.
"There are some exceptions, but meat is behind the vanguard of pack changes," Mr Streeter said.
He said the way forward is to produce value through packaging by giving the product personality, using different materials and offering packs that assist i8n cooking, offering greater convenience.
He said that while packaging for meat products is down to cost and safety at present, packaging can add value to a products and the meat industry will have to make the move at some time.