The world of food and nutrition is certainly not lacking in trends and tendencies, but the Real Food movement has clearly positioned itself as one of the most well-known and popular trends of recent times. As hospitality sector surveys suggest, the reason why there are increasing numbers of ‘real food’ followers is because the concept fuses two objectives that, for many years, consumers have had an appetite for: healthier and more sustainable food. This is why, at SP Group, we want to give you key information about the concept and how the packaging industry can help your business adapt to it.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE REAL FOOD MOVEMENT?
The Real Food concept, known as realfooding in Spain, is based on promoting healthier eating through the consumption of unprocessed or only minimally-processed foods. As the name of the movement suggests, it involves searching for fresh food that retains all its properties and nutrients in a natural manner.
With this in mind, the realfooding movement in Spain has developed a comprehensive range of products with which to promote real food. These range from the movement’s own foods, such as bread, cocoa cream and hummus, through to a mobile app that can be used to scan supermarket product barcodes and, based on the ingredients, work out if the products are ‘real food’, good processed foods or ultra-processed foods.
It is important to highlight that following the Real Food movement is not comparable to what we call a diet. It is a long-term lifestyle in which people care for their health while enjoying the real and natural taste of food. This is why the entire process of food consumption, from the harvest to the table, is such an important part of the movement.
The Real Food concept is also very closely linked to sustainability. It focusses in particular on decreasing food waste and it strongly encourages recycling. The type of packaging that is commonly used by realfooders can be reused and recycled.
WHAT DOES IDEAL REAL FOOD PACKAGING LOOK LIKE?
TRANSPARENT PACKAGING THAT ALLOWS CONSUMERS TO ASSESS PRODUCT FRESHNESS
The packaging that best adapts to the real food movement has certain characteristics. One of the main things that Real Food movement devotees look out for when making purchases is whether or not the packaging allows them to visually assess the freshness of the product. This means that packaging needs to be as transparent as possible. Products should be able to speak for themselves. Covering products in excess packaging or opting for packaging that is not particularly transparent could suggest to consumers that it is an ultra-processed product or that it does not meet the demands of realfooders.
PACKAGING FOR EXTENDING PRODUCT LIFE
Since the Real Food movement promotes consumption of fresh produce, packaging needs to extend the shelf life of food for as long as possible. Choosing the wrong packaging could mean that fresh produce, such as fruit and vegetables, oxidises and begins to look less appealing. Not only would this mean losses for the company selling the product, it would fail to uphold the values associated with the Real Food movement. The movement seeks to achieve improved sustainability in many different ways; one of them is reducing food waste.
Packaging that seeks to meet realfooder demands must preserve food in optimum condition. Smell and taste can be affected if the incorrect packaging is used. A worst case scenario would be food that has become contaminated with the aroma of other foods, meaning that it does not meet the movement’s standards. This is why packaging has to protect the food product from contamination from external agents and ensure that none of its properties are affected.
SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING FOR REALFOODERS
If we take into account how important food packaging is to the Real Food movement, particular attention needs to be paid to the type of packaging that businesses choose to use and the materials it is made from. rPET is a great example of a sustainable material that is suitable for the movement and can be used in packaging. It has certain characteristics that make it perfect for manufacturing the packaging used to present food consumed by people who uphold sustainability values.
rPET is made 100% from recycled materials and it is a thermoforming material. Since it is also 100% recyclable, it plays a very important role in the circular economy. The main advantages of using rPET include the fact that packaging made using this material is very lightweight, transparent, tough and flexible.
The aforementioned makes rPET packaging an excellent option for storing fresh, processed and pre-cooked food in good condition. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, a great choice when it comes to meeting the objectives of the Real Food movement.
Other types of packaging that are compatible with the philosophy and aims of realfooders include ones made using PP HB ECO. It is made from material that is over 90% recyclable and designed to withstand heat treatments such as sterilisation, pasteurisation, hot filling and microwaves. This extends the shelf life of products while limiting food waste. Other options include PE ECO, which is a 100% mono-material that is recyclable and transparent; and PE HB ECO, which is also manufactured from a material that is 100% recyclable and designed especially for foods that contain liquids and for superfoods such as chia seeds, poppy seeds and dried fruit.