Discerning Asian Shoppers Demand High Food Safety & Quality Specifications For Meat Packaging

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Volume sales of flexible packaging for meat and seafood products in the Asia-Pacific to reach 311.7 million metric tonnes by 2020, according to GlobalData.

With a confluence of burgeoning population, rising disposable incomes, rapid urbanisation and the retail boom, the Asia-Pacific offers an opportune market for meat, poultry and seafood producers. Besides the inherently high price-sensitivity, the market presents unique challenges for processors who seek to prolong shelf-life and maintain safety and freshness of produce amid the arcane and underdeveloped cold storage infrastructure in transportation, warehousing and retail sectors.

Additionally, processors face the challenge of addressing the growing demand among discerning Asian shoppers for products that meet the highest food safety and quality specifications, naturally finished with minimal additives, without compromising on flavour or taste. The rise in ethical consumerism is also driving demand for eco-friendly, recyclable and sustainable packaging materials as well as smart packaging that reduces food wastage. 


COVID-19 Outbreak Spurs Demand For Tamperproof Packaging

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the bar for cleanliness in the entire supply chain for packaged meat, poultry and seafood right from production and processing to packaging. Manufacturers and packagers are being compelled to enforce stringent hygiene and sanitation measures, going beyond basic hand washing, to guarantee contactless processing and delivery of the final product to customers in tamperproof packaging. APAC consumers have begun developing a strong affinity for tamperproof packaging amid the coronavirus outbreak as reflected by the GlobalData’s 2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recovery Consumer Survey.


HPP and MAP packaging gain favour are consumers gravitate towards clean-label products

With the clean label movement slowly but surely gaining traction in the APAC region, chemical additives in food are increasingly coming under the spotlight. Meat, poultry and seafood product producers are struggling to balance the rising demand for products with natural attributes such as low/zero preservatives along with the demand for freshness, consistently high quality and safety standards, and long shelf-life. The dearth of preservatives makes it highly challenging for CPG manufacturers to ensure product safety during transport, logistics and distribution channels in the journey from farm to table.

Besides vacuum packaging, and oxygen-control films, advanced technologies such as high-pressure processing (HPP) and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) are aiding meat, poultry and seafood processors in ensuring more freshness, naturalness, safety, and longevity of their offerings. Some processors employ a combination of these technologies, particularly for RTE products, to prevent oxidation, retain nutrients and flavours and thereby project claims such as “less processed” and “fresh from the butcher”, and “ocean fresh”. Track-and-trace technologies are aiding companies in tracing the origin and destination of contaminated, damaged, or expired products and thereby restrict product recall to smaller lots or areas.   


Flexible packaging is gaining ground faster than rigid packaging formats spurred by the growing consumer desire for convenience

While Rigid Package continues to dominate volume sales in the APAC market, consumption of Flexible Packaging is rising rapidly, and closing the gap. As per GlobalData’s market analysers, sales volumes of flexible packaging for meat and seafood products in the Asia-Pacific is poised to expanded from 281.4 million metric tonnes 295.9 million metric tonnes in 2019, and is set to further grow to 311.7 million metric tonnes through 2020. Though PVC overwrap remains the dominant packaging type for meat, poultry and seafood, vacuum sealed packs are gaining more traction owing to need for minimising packaging materials and storage space during transportation, while elevating safety and the visual appeal of the product.

A growing number of value-added products such as marinated, pre-cooked, and ready-to-eat (RTE) products are available in eye-catching packaging styles such as stand-up pouches, and flat-bottom bags. Moreover, there is scope for easy-to-open and resealable packages with closures such as zippers and freezer-ready packaging that offer more convenience to consumers and retailers alike.  

With hectic modern lifestyles spurring consumption of value-added convenience foods that minimise meal prep time, potential abounds for hot-fill pouches, which can be used for packing pre-prepared foods, particularly authentic recipes, and small meals for individuals. Similarly, retort packaging that allows consumers to cook contents in the package offer an elevated experience to consumers experimenting with international cuisine. The growing propensity for home deliveries and online grocery shopping among time-crunched, convenience-driven, urban consumers is poised to accelerate demand for compact, customised, and leak-proof packaging.  


Packaging aesthetics is gaining more importance

Besides functionality, aesthetics is another key aspect of meat, poultry and seafood packaging that is gaining more attention. Shoppers purchasing packaged meat and poultry products typically pay attention to the on-label information such as expiry dates, the visual appearance including colour and imperfections, and the tangible feel of the product. Brands are adopting transparent packages that allows discerning buyers to ascertain the quality of the product; detailed on-label product information that enables them to compare different products and ideas for meal prep, and bright colourful graphics to grab eyeballs of shoppers from the crowded store shelves. 


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