Ground beef packaging made easier

by Lynn Petrak
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 EZ Peel
Cargill's new packaging technology for ground beef designed for easy opening and less mess.

It’s an open and shut case when it comes to the mystery of what consumers want in fresh meat packaging. For many shoppers, convenience plays a lead role in solving purchase dilemmas at the meat case, reflected in ongoing demand for easy-to-use, easy-to-open packages.

As a new chapter begins in early 2017, it’s clear that convenience and ease of use remain top of mind among busy consumers. A recently released report, “Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Packaging Market in the US 2016-2020,” from Elmhurst, Illinois-based Technavio projects that case-ready packaging and modified atmosphere packaging will show the highest growth in the fresh and frozen market over the next few years. Meanwhile, according to the 2016 “Food Packaging Trends and Advances” report from PMMI/Packaging and Processing Technologies in Reston, Virginia, manufacturers of meat and related-products will continue to seek new packaging options for convenient, case-ready meats. Last year’s “Power of Meat” study published by the Food Marketing Institute and North American Meat Institute revealed consumers’ direct suggestions for greater and better variety at the meat case. As for opening features, a Brand Value Study from the Flexible Packaging Association showed that 60 percent of respondents rated “easy to open” as a top package attribute.

Consumers demand convenience

More specifically, consumers have voiced their preferences about convenient forms of ground beef packaging. A 2015 Cargill Innovation Study conducted by Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill revealed that more than half (57 percent) of consumers want better ground beef chub packaging that allows them to open products without touching raw meat. Moreover, almost a third (63 percent) are willing to pay 10 percent more for easy-open packages.

The implications for those preferences are broad, given the fact that ground beef remains one of the most popular beef items, for its value, ease of use and flavor. The chub format for ground beef is popular among consumers, too, for its value and longer shelf life.

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