Meat & Livestock News

Advancements in Meat Packaging Enhance Freshness and Sustainability

Packed pieces of pork and beef meat, close up

The landscape of meat packaging is evolving, with vacuum and skin packaging gaining traction among consumers who prefer these methods for their meat purchases.

According to the “Power of Meat 2023” report by FMI and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Education & Research, there has been a shift from traditional foam tray overwrap to these newer packaging styles, increasing from 17% in 2016 to 21% in 2022.

Quality remains the top priority for consumers buying packaged red meat, as highlighted by Mintel Group Ltd.’s report. A significant 72% of consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality red meat, indicating the value of clear packaging that showcases the product’s quality and production attributes.

Vacuum and skin packaging not only provide an appealing presentation but also ensure freshness, food safety, and extended freezer storage life.

These packaging methods are also advantageous for their leak-proof nature, ease of opening, and the ability to incorporate graphics and scan codes that enhance the consumer experience by telling the product’s story.

Melanie Bandari from Amcor Flexibles North America emphasises the expected growth in high-barrier case-ready packaging, which offers versatility and maintains the quality of the meat.

Andrew Birdwell from Ossid notes the industry’s focus on sustainability and real-time data reporting to reduce carbon footprints and improve operational efficiencies.

Packaging trends often reflect processors’ desires to showcase new products with innovative packaging that aligns with the item’s attributes. Mike McCann from Reiser points out that while beef, pork, and turkey are well-suited to high-barrier packaging that extends shelf life, chicken requires different packaging due to the potential for sulfuric odour buildup.

The choice of materials, thicknesses, and dimensions in packaging plays a crucial role in equipment performance and product shelf life.

Successful outcomes are achieved through strong partnerships and communication between equipment manufacturers, processors, and material suppliers.

In the context of sustainability, nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted, equating to about 119 billion pounds, as reported by The meat packaging industry is thus prioritising shelf life extension and sustainable practices to address food waste.

Looking ahead, the industry is poised to focus on communication, service, and partnerships for integrated packaging solutions. Innovations in service and products will rely on collaboration, with an emphasis on safety and success.

Future trends in case-ready packaging also point towards oven-ready and freezer-ready solutions, offering consumers convenience and extended storage options.

As the variety of meat products expands, differentiation in packaging will become increasingly important to capture consumer attention. Sensory printing technologies that provide unique textures are one of the ways the industry is seeking to stand out in the marketplace.

Set of Facts:

  • Vacuum and skin packaging for meat is becoming more popular.
  • Consumers prioritise quality and are willing to pay more for high-quality red meat.
  • Packaging trends are influenced by processors’ desire to introduce new products with innovative packaging.
  • Material choice in packaging is crucial for product shelf life and equipment performance.
  • The industry is focusing on sustainability to reduce food waste.
  • Future packaging trends include oven-ready and freezer-ready solutions, as well as sensory printing technologies for differentiation.