Instore - August 2018 - 50
equipment & packaging
As meal kits play a bigger role in retailers' prepared food offerings,
more are turning to vacuum packaging to keep foods in kits fresher
longer and to save space.
Meal kits are definitely a growing category for San Rafael, Californiabased vacuum packaging supplier Pac Machinery, says Bob Goldberg,
the company's marketing director.
Pac Machinery recently sold a Clamco 4C Combo sealer to the United
States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for use in
making Meals, Ready-to-Eat products (MREs). The pre-packaged
meals are used by the agency in emergency and disaster situations,
In addition, Pac Machinery automatic baggers are used to package
small, premeasured quantities of spices and herbs for do-it-yourself
meal kits, he says.
"Meal kits are a fast-growing business and are thus good for us," Goldberg
says. Millennial and Gen Z love of convenience is among the reasons
driving the growth. "I think meal kits are attractive to young people who
appreciate tasty meals but hate to step outside their door and visit the
marketplace," he says. "Delivered to the door appeals to them."
Meal kits are also on an upward trajectory for Charlotte, North
Carolina-based Sealed Air, says Karl Deily, the company's president
of Food Care.
Meal kits are
Many of Pac Machinery's
in-package residual oxygen
levels of less than 1%.
Sealed Air prides itself on the solutions
it develops for its meal kit customers,
Deily says. Recently, for example, one of
the company's online meal kit customers
was having a problem with leaking meat packages, resulting in upset
consumers and costly refunds. "Our team audited their supply chain
data and discovered that some leakers were caused by packaging while
others were caused by issues such as supplier equipment setup, overfilling or abuse from other products during shipments," Deily says.
Sealed Air helped the customer identify a packaging solution that
reduced waste and improved profitability. Now, they're working with
them to improve packing and reduce box size. "Without the right data,
and without asking the right questions during our audit, we could not
have traced the problem back to the source."
Vacuum packaging technology is a good fit for prepared foods
sections, Deily says, because it reduces packaging size, which in turn
reduces shipping complexity and costs. As a result, retailers can rotate
their stock less often and store more product in their refrigerators,
"Retailers are pressured to keep up with consumer demands for meal
variety, seasonal menu selections, and protein options that are aligned
with their personal preferences," Deily says. "Vacuum skin packaging
allows retailers and meal-kit subscription services alike to include a
variety of food types while ensuring proper protection and food safety."
And because vacuum skin packaging removes the oxygen altogether,
it can also provide significant shelf-life extension, Deily says. In one
example, food supplier Don KRC doubled their products' shelf life to 28
days and reduced food waste by using Sealed Air's Cryovac® Darfresh
vacuum packaging solutions. Additionally, the extended shelf life
enabled the product to ship nationwide.
50 * AUGUST 2018 * instore
In the U.S., the meal subscription market is expected to grow to
more than $10 billion by 2020, Deily says. And even though food
e-commerce is a fast-growing sector, he says, it's still an unregulated
space. "For example, there are no temperature regulations in place for
meal kit subscription services or any other shipped or delivered food