Prepared meals offer extended shelf life in transparent packaging
To maintain peak freshness for today’s busy yet health-minded consumer, Perfect Fit Meals sought out the perfect solution.
Started in early 2010, Perfect Fit Meals (PFM) is one of the first vendors of premium, ready to eat meals with an extended shelf life. PFM strives to deliver high-quality, non-frozen meals that offer a healthy alternative to other products in the category. The company’s USDA-certified kitchen and professionally trained staff is based in Houston, TX.
The packaging challenge
In today’s fast-paced society, sitting down to eat a healthy, high-quality, cooked meal can often seem impossible. But PFM set out to try and change that notion by developing fresh, ready to eat meals that are USDA-certified, hand crafted, portion-controlled and dietitian designed for busy consumers.
Started by two fitness experts who were looking for a solution to their mealtime woes, PFM first sold its products at Kroger stores in Texas, and has since expanded to other vendors across the country. Since its inception, PFM has been redefining the chilled, ready to eat food category with its innovative High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) and packaging methods, which allow for extended shelf life of its fresh foods while maintaining high standards of taste and texture.
But finding the perfect packaging solution wasn’t easy. PFM required a custom solution that worked well with their existing process while also providing a premium look and feel with transparent packaging so consumers could see the high-quality food inside.
The solution lies in the right supplier
After meeting with multiple vendors to explain what the company required in a custom packaging solution, it became obvious that most weren’t interested in reinventing their offerings to solve the challenges PFM had set out to address.
“We spoke with multiple packaging companies and were consistently told that what we were asking for couldn’t be done,” says Jasmine Sutherland, president of Perfect Fit Meals. “Then we talked to Ted Mori at Cryovac (a Sealed Air brand) and he helped us develop exactly what we needed. Today, he’s still involved in decision-making at PFM. We call him Uncle Ted.”
Not only was the performance of the finished product highly important, but PFM also needed a solution that helped eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination in the production process through a seamless segmentation of meals for allergy and dietary restrictions. The ability to easily segment the products through the packaging process in this way helped PFM ensure their own strict food safety regulations and meet the unique desires of their growing customer base.
From ideation to execution, Sealed Air worked closely with PFM to develop a Cryovac Simple Steps® (cryovac.com) packaging solution that fit the company’s needs from a quality and safety standpoint, while also providing a way to present the meals in a practical and aesthetically pleasing way.
“Packaging is essential to our business model and we wanted our meals to look like they had just come out of the kitchen,” says Sutherland. “We wanted our packaging to be transparent, just like our company.”
In addition to being vacuum sealed to help increase shelf life, Cryovac’s steam-assisted cooking technology releases heat and pressure as the food cooks, which helps keep the food from over-cooking and drying out. The BPA-free transparent package provides an appealing and healthy alternative to traditionally packed items.
The size of the plate that the meals were packaged and ultimately prepared on was another important consideration for PFM, as they wanted to provide their customers with appropriately portioned meals – a key component of the PFM promise to serve up a healthy alternative to other offerings. To meet this need, Cryovac further customized the Simple Steps solution by creating multiple size options that were a “perfect fit” for each of PFM’s meals.
Today, PFM sells 17 ready to eat meals at premium grocery stores across the U.S., and they’re continuing to expand their meal offerings and geographical locations. PFM’s customer-driven meal development program ensures that the meal variety, seasonal menu selections and protein options are always aligned with timely customer trends and their custom-made Simple Steps packaging solutions help make that possible.
“Perfect Fit Meals is growing and we aren’t afraid to push the limits,” adds Sutherland. “Having a partner like Sealed Air makes all the difference. We were a small company and they could have easily ignored our requests, but they didn’t. They’re like us, always looking for the next big thing.”
The partnership between Sealed Air and Perfect Fit Meals has helped provide modern consumers with a new, healthier option for meals that fit their busy schedules. Further demonstrating the success of this partnership, PFM’s meal packaging won Best Design award at the GD USA American Package Design Awards in 2014.
Sealed Air Corporation creates a world that feels, tastes and works better. In 2015, the company generated revenue of approximately $7.0 billion by helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals in the face of today’s biggest social and environmental challenges. Sealed Air’s portfolio of widely recognized brands, including Cryovac® brand food packaging solutions, Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning, and Diversey® cleaning and hygiene solutions, enables a safer and less wasteful food supply chain, protects valuable goods shipped around the world, and improves health through clean environments. Sealed Air has approximately 23,000 employees who serve customers in 169 countries.
To learn more, visit sealedair.com.