Ground beef packaging made easier

by Lynn Petrak
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Customers prefer ground beef packaging be easy to open with minimal or no mess.

To deliver value, shelf life, enhanced food safety and the important attribute of convenience, Cargill has introduced new chub packaging for ground beef that allows consumers to easily open the package and minimize contact with raw ground beef when preparing meals. Cargill is the first US beef producer to offer EZ Peel packaging, developed by Bemis Co. Inc., Neenah, Wisconsin. The 1-lb. chub packages are available in a variety of grinds and lean options and will be merchandised in stores beginning in January.

“EZ Peel packaging delivers a quick package opening experience, eliminating the need to cut open with a sharp object and contact with raw meat,” explains Katie Blick-White, brand manager for Cargill ground beef.

According to Blick-White, the EZ Peel package represents a rare update in chub packaging, a format that has not changed much over the years. “We have invested in consumer insights and innovations to deliver solutions that keep fresh meat relevant. Identifying solutions that help make our chub packaging more convenient for consumers has been a focus area for us,” she says.

At Bemis, marketing manager Jesten Neill says chub packaging represents a new application for the EZ Peel feature. “EZ Peel has been around in packaging for years, but is new to this chub format. With the chub format and metal clips, consumers have had a tough time getting into the package and most of the time it causes a mess that requires clean-up. The EZ Peel chub package allows consumers to get to the meat with minimal clean-up required,” Neill notes.

The technology did require some engineering tweaks because of the nature of the product, Neill adds. “There were challenges we had to overcome and extensive testing to ensure the EZ Peel could hold up through the distribution process,” he remarks.

Now that EZ Peel packaging is in the marketplace, the convenience factor for easy-to-open ground beef chub packaging is appealing to a cross-section of consumers, Blick-White explains.

“Ground beef is a go-to for fresh meat consumers, from busy families on the go to empty nesters, because of its convenience and versatility. According to our proprietary research study of more than 8,000 fresh meat consumers, we know that millennial-age parents often fall in the middle of the scale when it comes to the lean-to-fat ratio they are looking to purchase. These consumers are willing to pay a little more for quality and prefer to use a source grind, often ground round or ground sirloin,” she says. “At the other end of the scale, more experienced cooks seek both quality and flavor when making their ground beef selection. This group is likely to select ground chuck and prefer at least 90 percent lean ground beef.”

As the rollout of Cargill’s new chub packages begins this month, there are already moves to expand the use of the EZ Peel technology in other protein products. “We feel now that we have a commercial option for one-lb. ground beef and are working on moving to other meat types and pack sizes,” Neill reports.
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