Long challenged by shifting consumer demands, fierce competition and razor-thin profit margins, retailers are now facing a new issue: how to ensure food safety and sustainability without sacrificing sales or increasing costs.
Consumers worry about the environment, wasted resources, pollution and food waste, among other ecological issues – and these worries affect how they view retailers, according to a 2014 Harris Poll consumer food waste study. Eight out of 10 consumers say they would feel more positive about stores or brands that try to reduce food waste, according to the poll. They also like retailers that promote efforts to operate more sustainably, according to the 2014 study.
Meanwhile, many retailers are looking for ways to reduce a significant cost – shrinkage from the meat case. Most retailers experience 2-4 percent shrink in which they are forced to mark down the price or throw the meat product out. With many types of beef priced at $6 per pound or more, cutting shrinkage could significantly add to a retailer’s revenues and earnings.
Some retailers are turning to creatively designed packaging as a way to meet rising consumer demands and reduce shrinkage. In fact, more than half of retailers view improved packaging and extended shelf life as important factors when evaluating new products to carry.
Resourcefully designed packaging is the idea behind Cryovac® Darfresh® On Tray, which uses a specially formulated top film and bottom tray to create a secure and hygienic seal that keeps the meat fresh and allows it to be attractively presented to consumers. This new sustainable, case-ready packaging for fresh red meat and poultry not only reduces waste through the vacuum packaging and efficient use of materials and energy, but it also allows retailers to more efficiently and effectively store, display and market the product.
Darfresh on Tray significantly extends the shelf life of meat and poultry, reducing shrink by 30-40 percent. It also creates a significant merchandizing opportunity for retailers, enabling them to attractively display more product, increase sales and reduce shrinkage. For instance, Darfresh on Tray is 25-50 percent less bulky than meat packaged in a mother bag process, allowing more product to be displayed in the refrigerator case. The many color options, including clear, allow the meat to be more visible and attractively displayed in the case and gives it a point-of-sale advantage over products in other types of packaging.
Besides its sustainability and food safety benefits, consumers also like the convenience of the packaging, which is leak-proof, easy to open and freezer-ready. Consumers concerned about portion sizes like the fact that Darfresh on Tray trays come in a variety of sizes, including individual packed portions. Consumers no longer have to remove packaging from purchased food in order to subdivide it for later use, which wastes packaging material and reduces the freshness of the food by breaking the vacuum seal. Consumers also like the transparency of Darfresh on Tray’s clear packaging option (the trays come in any color) – clear packaging gives consumers a direct view of the product, bolstering their trust in the integrity of the brand and the retailer.
One disconnect is that consumers do not understand the role of packaging in reducing food waste and achieving sustainability. Many consumers believe that packaging is worse for the environment than is food waste. They change their minds, however, when they are shown that packaging with portion control is environmentally friendly, keeps food fresh for longer and reduces food waste, according to the 2014 Harris Poll study. As a result, some in-store education may be needed to help consumers better understand the sustainability benefits of innovative packaging designs.
In offering a combination of freshness and more efficient and effective retail presentation, packaging like Darfresh on Tray appeals to customers’ desire for high quality meat and poultry while providing retailers with savings and marketing advantages through extended product life, sustainability, food safety, transparency and convenience.
By taking proactive initiatives to address food waste and sustainability, resourcefully designed packaging enables retailers to improve brand loyalty and reputation with customers while also increasing sales and cutting costs.