In recent years, due to the convenience of peelable offered by high barrier packaging films render, the demand for case-ready packaging products is growing rapidly. Case-Ready Packaging (CRP) deals with centrally-prepared food products, including fresh beef, pork, lamb, veal, fresh poultry, smoked and processed meats, cooked poultry, cheese, deli items, and value-added products. Predominantly such products are stored in plastic trays covered with high barrier packaging films that are reusable. In addition, it helps retailers reduce certain operations costs, such as labor, meat-cutting equipment, and space utilization.
Protection, preservation, maintaining, and extending the shelf-life of food products are the primary challenges faced in the food industry. Food products are affected due to both intrinsic parameters, such as pH, preservatives, water activity, and extrinsic parameters, like temperature, humidity, and gaseous environment. Barrier film packaging solutions allow mitigating these challenges. The materials used to package case-ready meat are designed to maximize protection while extending shelf life, freshness, and flavor. High-quality packaging technologies such as barrier films, vacuum sealing, or modified atmospheres can ensure freshness up to twice longer than meats that sit in the full-service counter.
For retailers, case-ready meats offer numerous benefits:
- Retail stores can order only the cuts that sell best in their market and not a large carcass that includes cuts that do not sell.
- Case-ready products arrive ready to go into the retail case and do not require additional cutting or processing.
- Because these packages are produced and packaged at the plant, they have a longer shelf-life than meat packaged in the retail store, which generally lasts about one to five days after it is opened, cut, and repackaged.
- Case-ready products allow retail stores to manage inventory more effectively and reduce “out of stocks,” which are frustrating to consumers.
Case-ready packaging also prevents leakage and provides better quality control. Such benefits are increasing the adoption of case-ready fresh-meat packaging. In addition, case-ready packaging provides benefits, such as product uniformity, less in-store shrink, better inventory control at retail, product variety, convenience, more time for merchandising, increased shelf life, and reduced food safety risks at retail, thus producing increased sales. For instance, Schur Flexibles Holding GesmbH (Austria) offers innovative high barrier packaging films for processed and case-ready products. EVOH based shrink films are the primary material choice that has excellent properties to restrict Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR), heat, and UV rays. Ideally, high barrier packaging films provide oxygen and moisture barrier protection for case-ready products. Meticulous Research, in its latest publication on the ‘High Barrier Films Market for Food Packaging,’ states that the high barrier films market for food packaging is expected to reach $30.8 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period 2021 to 2028.