As a retail category, meat has the same packaging requirements as any food product: attractiveness, convenience and, lately, sustainability. It also has some concerns that are unique, or at least especially prominent: ease of use and safety.
Case-ready packaging, the continued growth of cooked product, easy-open features and the elimination of foam trays are all ways the industry is looking to cope with these demands. As for safety, various forms of sensor technology can reassure consumers of cold chain integrity. Imparting information on labeling also is growing in importance, both to give consumers cooking tips and to inform them of nutritional attributes of meat that they might not be aware of. Attractive presentation extends to both raw product, through modified atmosphere packaging that keeps meat an appealing color, and cooked product, through packages like clear tubs and windowed cartons. As consumers’ time and cooking skills continue to diminish, cooked product with appropriate packaging will keep growing in importance. F&BP