A Q&A with Natalie Schmid, product market manager, thermoforming at Multivac. She weighs in about today’s food packaging and the consumer trends that are shaping the marketplace.

Packaging Strategies: What do consumers want from today’s food packaging and how are packagers adopting their thermoforming machines to accommodate?

Natalie Schmid: Consumers want less packaging for better sustainability and better product quality, including freshness of the food inside the package. Due to the aging baby boomer generation, we see a big trend going into smaller portion sizes vs. family packs, individual portions and easier-to-open packages. Also, millennials have a big influence on what is bought and how it is bought. They tend to have smaller households or are starting families later in life; and with somewhat higher household incomes, the trend to buy fresh vs. pantry stocking has an impact on the portion sizes. Convenience is a big factor since many families have both partners working, so less time to spend on meal preparation. Nevertheless, home-cooked meals are a growing trend.

New alternatives in packaging include ready meal kits, easy-to-cook products and even cook in the package with dual ovenable film. This is driven by a desire for easy cleanup, and eliminating the need to touch the raw food product. Finally, there is a consumer desire for easier opening features as well as reclosable features.

PS: What are your customers requesting from these machines?

Schmid: Flexibility within a machine to produce more than one package configuration with quick changeover, high processing reliability, reduction in downtime and hygienic design.

PS: In your opinion, is there any new food/ beverage trend that will mean big changes for thermoformed containers?

Schmid: The MultiFresh (skin pack) for fresh meat offers improved shelf appearance, better moisture retention and longer shelf life for the product. This can also improve sustainability by a reduction in packaging material needs, better logistical saving in warehousing and transportation and reduction of food waste resulting from the extended shelf life.

Established in 1987, MULTIVAC - USA is the largest daughter company of MULTIVAC Global with over 3,500 active U.S. based packaging machines and growth of 250+ new thermoforming and tray sealing machines sold annually. To provide customers with a single source supply network, MULTIVAC offers thermoforming, traysealing and chamber machines along with labeling, printing, inspection and automation. In addition, MULTIVAC certified films are designed and tested for optimal performance on MULTIVAC equipment. Our customers rely on the vast expertise of our global manufacturing, and the local support from our Kansas City, Missouri, headquarters and three regional offices with more than 75 field based technical service representatives available with parts and troubleshooting support 7 days a week through our industry leading DirecTech program. For more information, visit us.multivac.com.