High-protein diets like Paleo and the Primal Diet are trending. While not everyone is jumping on these caveman-based eating plans, their popularity is increasing demand for protein-packed convenience foods that don’t come with high doses of preservatives, artificial ingredients or added carbohydrates. These consumer needs place new demands on packaging.

Increasingly, convenience becomes a driving factor in meat and poultry packaging. According to the 2014 Power of Meat study commissioned by American Meat Institute (AMI) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI), 60% of consumers said enhanced packaging such as resealable, leak-proof or freezer ready packaging would prompt them to purchase more meat and poultry products. Fifty-three percent of consumers reported a desire for pre-portioned, meal-size packages of meat. And 68% of consumers expressed interest in learning more about oven-ready meat and poultry solutions.

As more consumers attempt to cook at home both to serve healthier meals and to avoid over-spending on restaurant food, the demand for easy-to-prepare foods increases. Many consumers are uncertain of how to properly prepare meat, poultry and seafood, which means oven-ready packaging with clear cooking instructions, provides a simple solution. Omaha Steaks has answered the call for easy-to-prepare meals by introducing the 1-Step Rapid Roast, which allows consumers to make meats go from freezer to table in just one step and with a 50% shorter cook time.

“Omaha Steaks is excited to introduce 1-Step Rapid Roast products, which have been specially designed to make it ultra-easy and convenient for our customers to cook and serve gourmet meals at home in no time,” says Todd Simon, senior vice president, when the company launched the steaks earlier this year. “Each of the 1-Step Rapid Roast products is seasoned to perfection and sealed in a specially designed cook-in-the package wrap, allowing customers to take dinner from the freezer to the table in minutes. The packaging also eliminates prep and clean up time, leaving more time to spend with family and friends.”

Much like their uncertainty with preparing meats, many consumers struggle with cooking fish in a way that is both safe and flavorful. The Saucy Fish Co, launched their already successful UK brand in the United States this past March. The Saucy Fish Co. offers a selection of seasoned fish in a foil bake bag so consumers need only to place the product in the oven as instructed to prepare well-seasoned fish. The Saucy Fish Co. even goes a step further by offering ready-to-eat packaged fish that can be consumed as a main dish or added to other dishes for quick and convenient meal solutions.

While consumers want convenience, they do not want to compromise the taste and quality of the food they are eating. This is especially true of consumers who are on a diet and don’t want to feel further deprived by eating “diet food.” Chef’s Diet has turned to Cryovac (cryovac.com) for a solution. Cryovac Vacuum Skin technology offers vacuum-sealed packaging that preserves freshness and quality. Chef’s Diet meals are delivered to consumers’ doors daily in cooler packs. The film helps keep the food fresh for the day while also allowing the company to display their meals as intended because the film offers a second-skin appearance that keeps ingredients in place.

While flexible packaging is spreading to most industries and doing well with consumers, Salami manufacturer, Norwegian Grilstad, found its customers did not like the tear-open flexible package for sliced salami. They preferred a twist-off, screw-on lid on a rigid container. In response, Grilstad switched to the SuperLock package from RPC Superfos (superfos.com). This new package allowed the company to offer the convenient storage, serving and resealing consumers wanted. Grilstad worked with RPC to suit the package to their product. They turned the pot upside down so the lid would also act as a serving dish, which makes the product even easier for the consumer to use. The package twists open and closed so it can be easily and reliably resealed to minimize food waste.

“We chose the SuperLock pot because it is the only solution on the market offering three desirable qualities all in one: an oxygen barrier, decoration with In-Mold Labelling and a twist-off screw-on lid,” says Terje Sørnes, development manager at Grilstad. “When we came up with the idea of using the pot upside down, we found it so obvious that we had to ask ourselves why no one had thought of it before.”

Since the package launch last fall, Grilstad reports good sales. The new package not only serves customers, but it also helps boost awareness of the Grilstad brand and packaging.

According to Sørnes, “The attention that we got from the media was overwhelming. Thanks to the packaging, we received a great deal of coverage in major newspapers and news websites.”

The most difficult consumers to satisfy in the meat, poultry and seafood segments are those on the go. These are not traditionally shelf-stable foods. Jerky is one exception to this rule. Jerk Nation has found an innovative packaging solution to provide consumers with a flavorful protein snack on the go. The new Jerk Nation jerky packages, designed by Thought for Food & Son (tffandson.com), offer a duel compartment design. Previously, Jerk Nation Season n’ Shake Jerky came packaged with a season packet, which could be sprinkled on the jerky. This system didn’t resonate with consumers, but the new duel-compartment package makes the process clearer. Packaging the seasoning separately allows the consumer to customize the jerky and keeps both the meat and seasoning fresh until ready for consumption. 

Whether on-the-go or on a schedule, meat, poultry and seafood packages are meeting consumers where they are in their fast-paced lives. From providing easy-to-prepare gourmet meals for amateur cooks to delivering fresh food to offering custom flavors for active consumers, these packages make life easier without making it less healthy.