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.
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
1. Tyson Foods Inc.
recently had a go-round with the federal government and competitors over
no-antibiotic claims on its chicken labeling. At issue was a feed additive
that, the government insisted, constitutes an antibiotic, invalidating the
claim. Tyson removed the claim but sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in
June, asking to be allowed to reinstate it.
2. Cargill Meat Solutions
is one of the foremost processors of meat in case-ready packaging. Its
proprietary system of modified-atmosphere packaging, REDiFresh, used for
case-ready beef patties, removes as much oxygen as possible from the retail
package, maintaining fresh color and odor through a 21-day shelf life.
3. Smithfield Foods Inc.
Smithfield has been growing
through acquisitions, including ConAgra’s Butterball and other refrigerated
meat brands in 2006. Smithfield
has maintained and expanded the Butterball line of refrigerated and processed
meats in packaging that includes rigid, reusable tubs and paperboard cartons