Packaging has a strong correlation with product shelf life for raw and pre-cooked meat products.

Channel surfing

Logistics plays an increasingly important role in the supply chain as more links to the chain have been added with new retail channels blending the markets. Timeliness and packaging that can preserve products in varying formats and withstand the rigors of delivery and merchandising in all retail environments is critical and it starts with the processors of the food.

“As a producer of perishable products, it is critical to minimize travel times and make timely deliveries to our growing customer base throughout the mid-Atlantic region as well as national accounts throughout the United States,” according to Jeff Saval, president of Deli Brands of America, a Columbia, Maryland-based subsidiary of Saval Foods Corp. On Nov. 1, the company announced the construction of a 19,000-sq.-ft. packaging plant and warehouse in Lansdowne, Maryland.

The new operation will support two nearby facilities that produce deli meats, entrees and custom-cut steaks. The new plant is about 10 miles from the Deli Brands headquarters in Baltimore. “The highly developed transportation network servicing this building met our stringent criteria,” Saval said.

Minimizing travel times from plant to retailers to ensure timely deliveries has become more important as consumers are finding new and different places to spend their food dollars. Supermarkets and club stores are being joined by c-stores, drug stores, dollar stores and limited assortment stores (like Aldi and Lidl) as shopping destinations for today’s consumers. Consumers can even do their food shopping in airports and in vending machines.

“People are going everywhere to buy their food,” explained Stanton during his presentation at Multivac. “Millennials don’t see a brick and mortar store as the primary place to shop. We’re losing the opportunity to sell them other things when they skip coming into the store to shop.”

The changes in the food merchandising landscape has made food packaging more important than ever, Stanton added. “People are still making purchasing decisions by looking at the packaging, whether they’re looking at food in the store on the shelf or shopping online. If they buy online they still see pictures of the packages,” he said. “Packaging is a billboard for your brand. Even if the shopper isn’t shopping for your product, they’re walking by it in the store. They’re being exposed to your brand just like on a billboard. The packaging is the connective tissue that brings it all together.”

Realizing the role of packaging as a marketing vehicle, Rosina Food Products Inc., a Buffalo, New York, processor of frozen meatballs, pasta and entrees, unveiled new packaging across its line of meatball products, which rolled out to its retail customers on Sept. 1.

The new packages are color coded to identify the flavors and style of the products, which include Italian, Homestyle and Swedish. The packaging also displays the product size and number of servings to make selection more convenient for retail consumers.

“We’re confident the new packaging better reflects the quality of the Rosina brand,” said Chris Tirone, Rosina’s director of marketing. “Our new packaging design will clearly identify our brand and make it easier for consumers to select their favorite styles and flavors in the freezer section at retail.”

“Based on research and consumer insights, the introduction of our new packaging will improve consumer engagement with our products and our brand,” said Tom Finn, Rosina’s vice president of retail sales and marketing. “The new packaging will also benefit our retail partners, who understand and appreciate that better packaging can help increase sales.”