The sale of pre-prepared food products has shot up in Spain in recent years. Some figures, like those from the Asefapre study, have shown that sales of ready meals grew 8.7% in 2020. Everything points to the fact that this is a trend that is here to stay, becoming a new consumer habit. This prediction is corroborated by the profit margins of many food delivery companies. Given the huge growth this sector is experiencing, it is important to consider the best options for packaging pre-prepared food and preserving it so it doesn’t lose any of its properties. This is why SP Group would like to explain the most important properties of packaging solutions for food.
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DOES PACKAGING FOR PRE-PREPARED FOOD NEED?
As well as the quality of the ingredients, it is also important to consider the type of packaging the product will need. This is not just a question of protecting the food itself, but preserving all its qualities, such as aroma and flavour. There is no sense in creating a great dish with good ingredients if the packaging is going to cause it to have no aroma, or taste different, by the time it reaches the end consumer.
The most basic requirements for this type of packaging include preserving the food from all types of external agents. These could alter the properties of the product, or even contaminate it and compromise the safety of the food.
Ease of use is also important when it comes to consumer experience. Ideally the product will be light and easy to open, without the need for additional tools.
FLEXIBILITY: ONE OF THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF PACKAGING
Ensuring a food product does not lose its properties and is properly isolated from the outside environment is only the first step to selecting the perfect packaging. Pre-prepared foods also need greater flexibility when it comes to their use. Firstly, we need to create different types of packaging depending on the type of food. Many ready meals, for example, consist of several ingredients that need to be kept separate.
A clear example of this are the main dishes with garnish that many business offer. For this type of food, the best thing is to have packaging with several different sections for the separate ingredients. In other words, good packaging should be customisable when it comes to choosing the number of compartments.
Another of the basic needs for ready meals is that they can be heated in the microwave. This characteristic is crucial when it comes to ease of use for consumers. There are many systems designed for this purpose, such as packaging with pressure-release valves that allow the packaging to remain closed (as is the case with Vsteam), and those that are microwaveable and just require the packet to be opened slightly to release the pressure.
There are several materials that can be used to produce packaging for pre-prepared food products. Ideally, this plastic should be as sustainable as possible. To achieve this, it should be 100% recyclable. The materials that meet all these conditions include:
- rPET: a materials that is ideal for cold food products, such as fruit and salad. It is transparent, which makes it a great option for showcasing the qualities of the product while keeping it protected. Its qualities make it resistant, rigid and light, which means if is a great option for transporting food.
- PP HB ECO: this new, material developed by SP Group was designed as a solution to help companies meet the European Commission’s goals to make all plastic on the market in the EU recyclable or reusable by 2030. It is a material that has been especially designed for food products that need sterilising, such as sauces and pre-prepared dishes. It is ideal for baby food and on-the-go products.