Consumption habits have changed enormously in recent years, with busier lifestyles meaning people are choosing pre-prepared foods and ready meals over cooking for themselves.
This has led to an increase in the consumption of pre-prepared foods and ready meals, as reflected in the figures published by the Spanish Association of Pre-prepared Food Manufacturers (ASEFAPRE). These changes in people’s consumption habits are linked to new needs that packaging has to satisfy, such as snacking or eating a meal anywhere, any time.
As we have plenty of experience in the sector, SP Group would like to help you understand these needs and how the packaging industry can help solve them.
HOW HAS CONSUMPTION CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?
In recent years, the biggest changes in consumption habits have taken place in the food industry. One of the main changes is the consumption of on-the-go products, conceived to make life easier for people with busy lifestyles.
Some of these products are even designed to be consumed while walking, in order to make the most of your time on really busy days. The characteristics of these food products and their packaging mean they can be consumed anywhere, and at any time.
PRE-PREPARED FOOD: ESSENTIAL IN TODAY’S WORLD
According to data from the sector the increase in sales of pre-prepared food products can be explained by the new solutions devised by manufacturers to address the consumer demand for different healthy eating options in keeping with a busy lifestyle.
Another trend that appeared during the pandemic and has remained popular is food delivery. In fact, many restaurants survived by introducing a delivery service.
The return to work, as well as the convenience of this type of time-saving service, has led to these changes in consumption habits becoming particularly prominent.
Pre-prepared foods have become an easy option for healthy eating, with a wide range to choose from. They also boast the added advantages of time saving and ease of preparation. They are affordable and safe, thanks to the strict processes and regulations that must be adhered to in their preparation.
According to ASEFRAPE figures, refrigerated and frozen pizzas are one of the most popular products, with 131,748 tonnes being consumed. Next in line are rice dishes with a 36.7% rise in consumption. Refrigerated Spanish omelettes are also up there, along with veggie alternatives, which are growing in popularity due to the movement that is affecting the whole sector, as explained by Álvaro Aguilar, general secretary of ASEFAPRE.
SUSTAINABILITY: ONE OF THE BIGGEST DEMANDS OF NEW CONSUMERS
One of the biggest demands today is for sustainable packaging for supermarket products, and it is clear that of all the different changes in consumption habits, this is one that is definitely here to stay.
Different companies, such as Glovo, have carried out studies to determine just how important this matter is for customers and how it affects purchasing decisions. The results showed that 70% of buyers will use a restaurant again if its orders came in eco-friendly packaging.
One way of meeting these demands is through the use of monomaterials in the manufacturing process. These packaging materials are designed with recycling in mind – as they are made from a single polymer, no separation is required for recycling. This not only reduces the environmental impact of the packaging, but also means the resulting recycled material is better quality.
NEW NEEDS FOR NEW CONSUMPTION HABITS
The pre-existing needs in the sector and these changes in consumption habits must all be taken into account when choosing the type of packaging to use for a product. The packaging must:
- preserve the food product and lengthen its shelf life
- be able to withstand cold storage
- have an original design to stand out from the competition
- provide clear product information (e.g. ingredients and allergens), while ensuring it looks good and is attractive for consumers
- be highly sustainable to reduce its environmental impact
be able to withstand heat treatments and incorporate elements that make the product quick to consume (such as a VSteam valve and easy opening).
WHAT MATERIALS MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS?
SP Group has several solutions to help you adapt to these new consumption habits and packaging requirements.
The following are some examples of materials that meet all customers’ expectations, both in terms of sustainability and preservation:
- Vsteam: one of the best options for dishes that need reheating or cooking before eating. Vsteam packaging is ideal for microwaving as the incorporation of a valve means that no perforation is required for cooking. Together with its optimal capacity for preservation, this makes it one of the best options for satisfying customer demands for quick, easy-to-prepare food.
- PP HB ECO: a retortable and polypropylene-based recyclable material with high-barrier properties. PP HB ECO withstands heat treatments, such as sterilisation, pasteurisation, hot-fill and microwaving. This material is perfect for food products that need sterilising such as sauces and pre-prepared dishes. The option of a cap makes it ideal for baby food and on-the-go products.
- rPET: One of our most popular eco-friendly plastics. rPET is made from 100% recycled material and is 100% recyclable. It is highly transparent and easily withstands any impact during the packaging process, making it a great option for products created to meet new consumer demands.
SP Group is highly committed to sustainability and maximising the shelf life of food products. We believe in a circular economy and design our packaging to adapt to real market needs and to be sustainable.