Happy Thanksgiving! It's Time For Change

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018 | 219 Views

Worldwide poultry production sits at a colossal 111,000 thousand tonnes a year and it’s predicted to increase by 24 percent over the next decade.  There’s no doubt that poultry is a staple, but how is this traditional industry shifting to fulfil modern day food demands? Here, Miguel Campos, Export Sales Manager at food packaging manufacturer Advanta, hatches a plan to use innovative packaging to fulfil the convenience and shelf-life demands of today’s poultry industry.

 

Convenience is a key driver in changing what is on the supermarket shelves. This is reflected by the increase of pre-marinated, ready-to-cook chicken products, which consumers can put straight in the oven without mess or fuss. This reliance on convenient food products is not limited to the Western world; but is a trend that’s rising across North America, Europe and Australasia.

Globally, ready-meals and convenience foods are continually on the rise, especially in rapidly urbanising economies such as South Asia, with increased adoption of packaged food products into new consumer markets. In 2017, Western Europe saw the packaged food market grow by 1.5 percent, compared with a rise of 1.15 percent in the United States.

Despite a reduction of red meat consumption worldwide, the consumption of chicken is continuing to grow.  However, the industry is experiencing a shift in the types of products consumers are demanding. Today’s consumers are replacing traditional product with newer concepts—think marinated wings, pre-marinated wings and ready-to-cook whole poultry.

 

Packaging Matters

There’s no denying the growing demand for packaged food, but what does this mean for the poultry distributors, wholesalers or meal developers? Put simply, poultry packaging requires a rethink.

Regardless of the quality or desirability of a product, packaging can have a significant impact on whether the customer will make the purchase. This is particularly relevant for whole poultry. Generally speaking, today’s consumers don’t want to touch the chicken before it is cooked—which they have had to do with traditional plastic bag packaging.

Again, it’s about convenience.

By manufacturing pre-marinated poultry products in an oven-proof tray, the consumer experiences minimal fuss as they move their meal from fridge, to oven, to table. This is a luxury associated firmly with aluminium packaging.

 

Cook-In Engineering

For consumers, trays that allows poultry to be cooked directly in their packaging means that cooking is a fuss-free affair, but this method also has advantages for logistics. Robust foil trays allow sleeves and cartons to be lightweighted, reducing the total pack costs and transport costs of poultry.

Additionally, aluminium trays are suitable for use with hermetic seal machines and gas flushing techniques allowing for shelf-life extension of poultry products if required. Gas flushing techniques, also known as modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), are a carefully controlled blend of different gases used in air tight packaging to increase the shelf life of food. Typically, this is used with plastic trays or smoothwall foil trays.

For the consumers, they see versatility from a different angle. Poultry products that can be frozen, cooked on a direct flame and put on the table, all in the same container, are ideal.

 

Market Analysis

The future of poultry packaging will marry consumer convenience with shelf-life extension. Advanta saw a gap in the market for an aluminium poultry tray alternative whereby the consumer peels away the skin pack film and puts the tray straight into the oven. The company has since launched the poultry vacuum pack smoothwall tray, which has resulted in global interest from food manufactures.

The consumer simply peels of the plastic skin surrounding the poultry, revealing the whole chicken in a foil tray, and placing it in the oven. This combination brings the extended life from the skin pack plastic, and the convenience of the foil tray, ready to be put in the oven and onto the table.

Consumer demand for convenience and retailer’s requirements for longer shelf-life is refocusing the priorities in poultry food packaging. As consumption of poultry products continues to grow, packaging manufacturers must ensure their packaging is fit for purpose in this sector.

Whether you’re in Australasia, North America, or Europe, consumer preferences will continue to drive changes in packaging, across all poultry divisions. Packaging may take on new forms over the next decade, as long as consumer demands are embraced.

 

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