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Taking a ‘fresh’ approach Packaging on the perimeter must appease myriad consumer demands, from convenience to sustainability By Lawrence Aylward

It has been said that the fresh department is the gateway to gaining consumer trust. And with more retailers growing their store-branded fresh offerings — because of increased demand and the shrinking of the center store — packaging continues to play a vital role in gaining that trust. “Fresh categories are critical for retailers in establishing perceptions with shoppers,” says Tory Gundelach, vice president of retail insights for market researcher Kantar’s Consulting Division. “This is one of the main reasons most retailers, particularly grocers, have fresh departments front and center when you walk in the door.” The role of packaging differs greatly by fresh category, Gundelach points out. “In certain categories like produce, packaging can actually signal to the shopper that the product is not as fresh as open stock produce,” she adds. “In areas like meat, packaging is critical for shoppers to feel like they are buying a safe product. Overall, it’s critical that packaging in perishable categories keeps product fresh and protected during transport and while it is on the shelf.” Rebecca Casey, vice president of marketing and consumer market development for Chicago-based TC Transcontinental Packaging, says retailers want convenience in fresh packaging to appease consumer needs. TC Transcontinental Packaging manufactures flexible packaging for store brands, including fresh products. Casey says flexible packaging can fit the consumer’s on-the-go lifestyle with convenience features such as zippers, handles, spouts and venting for microwaving. Oven cook-in can even be added to bags and pouches, she adds. One of the latest ready-to-eat conveniences to enter the supermarket perimeter through flexible packaging is in the produce section, Casey notes. “Flexible packaging is allowing retailers the ability to offer consumers


fresh-cut product packed in-store with a value-added steamable feature,” she says. “Consumers can take advantage of grab-ngo convenience, as well as enjoy healthy eating options that are simple and easy to prepare using the convenience of their microwave.” Casey says flexible packaging offers excellent protection barriers that can be customized to accommodate almost any type of fresh product by incorporating the barrier properties and macroand micro-perfing technology to keep products fresh. THE “FOUR PS” OF PACKAGING Glen Adamik, director of strategic marketing for Commerce, Calif.-based Elkay Plastics, which also offers flexible packaging, says the most important functional aspects of packaging as they pertain to fresh foods are the “four Ps,” but not the same four Ps of marketing, which are product, price, placement and promotion. “When it comes to packaging for food, I tell my team there’s a different set of ‘Ps’ to be mindful of, which encapsulate the value packaging ought to deliver: presentation, protection, preservation and proposition,” Adamik says. Presentation means the package needs to present its contents in an aesthetically appealing way, he says. Protection means the package needs to protect products from the rigors of not only production, but shopper handling. Preservation cites that sealed, but often breathable packaging, needs to help extend, or at least not inhibit, product shelf life, according to Adamik. And proposiFlexible packaging is allowing retailers the ability to offer consumers fresh-cut product packed in-store with a valueadded steamable feature, such as TC Transcontinental Packaging’s Steam N’ Eat Pouch.

Store Brands /May 2019 /

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Store Brands - May 2019  

Store Brands - May 2019