New meat packaging trends: towards greater sustainability?

Every year new trends emerge in the food industry, which is constantly trying to reinvent itself. None of these has appealed so strongly to consumers around the world as sustainability. So how is meat packaging adapting to this new trend? We will analyse it below.

These days we are not at all surprised by findings like 88% of consumers attach a great deal of importance to ‘infinitely recyclable’ packaging, given that sustainability is all the rage. This, added to tighter regulations on the use of plastic, has led to sustainable packaging even being created in markets as specific as meat packaging.

Meat packaging in the spotlight

Within the food industry, especially the meat industry, there has been a growing trend where people care more about a product’s sustainability than anything else. Sources from inside the industry claim that the focus is on eating this type of product ethically and responsibly, resulting in more sustainable and even circular production practices.
A product that seeks to meet these criteria and minimise impact during the production process cannot then use unsustainable packaging that does not represent these values. Sustainable meat packaging also implies meeting technical criteria that will extend the meat’s shelf life and conserve it, keeping food waste to a minimum.

Examples of sustainable materials for efficient meat packaging

The following are some examples of materials designed to comply with this trend and achieve efficient yet sustainable meat packaging.

SOL EFFICIENT

It is designed to be used as a flexible film with a tray and is extremely sustainable because, despite the sealing process, any remains stuck to the tray can be separated and recycled easily. To achieve maximum sustainability, ideally SOL EFFICIENT should be used with a tray made from another sustainable material, like  rPET.

This material also comes with a high water-vapour and oxygen barrier and is watertight and highly durable, thereby meeting efficiency, conservation and sustainability criteria for meat packaging.

APET RESILIENT

During the production process it is very versatile, allowing deep thermoforming of the base web, and it is fully recyclable. In fact, APET RESILIENT is one of the materials we use in our Tray2Tray sustainability project, focused on the circular economy, which goes hand-in-hand with recycling and reusing packaging, for example, trays.

PP HB ECOTOP

This is a perfect example of a high-barrier recyclable top film, suitable for thermal processes such as retort processes. Due to its properties it is one of the most highly recommended materials to extend the shelf life of food through vacuum packing. It is sustainable because it is made mainly from polypropylene and does not contain anything that will hinder recycling.

To achieve maximum performance in terms of sustainability, ideally it should be used together with a thermoformable web base, RST B ECO, which meets the same technical criteria.

Smart meat packaging, the future of meat packaging

Not every trend in meat packaging is focused on the sustainability of the packaging. There are other trends that are making great strides when it comes to reducing food loss, one of the most innovative being smart packaging.

This type of packaging can extend the shelf life of food and thereby cut down on food waste. It also provides much more information than traditional packaging and can detect potential problems, which increases product safety.

When used for meat, it can incorporate an indicator that changes colour if the temperature changes or it detects external contamination, or more sophisticated indicators such as TTIs – time temperature indicators – that measure a product’s exposure to excessive temperature and the time at that temperature.

Another alternative within this type of packaging is active packaging. This helps preserve product quality and extend the shelf life of a food using different systems, which range from regulating temperature and humidity to others that have antimicrobial capabilities. This type of packaging has revolutionised the industry.

SP Group is committed to both innovation and sustainability in the packaging industry and strives for continuous improvement to find the best market solutions that reduce the environmental impact and extend the shelf life of food.


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