Several grocery chains have tested new case-ready meat packaging from Tyson Foods that’s more eco-friendly and extends product shelf life.
Called “flow wrap,” the packaging uses about 50% less plastic and 50% less energy in the manufacturing process versus traditional expanded polystyrene product packaging, according to Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson. The flow wrap packaging was developed to keep the meat fresher—up to three times longer—and its airtight environment also helps maintain color and allows consumers to freeze the product without impacting quality, the company said.
Currently, flow wrap packaging has been introduced only for ground beef, but it’s being considered for other case-ready meat products, Tyson representatives said in the company’s booth at last week’s Annual Meat Conference (AMC) in Dallas. Grocery retailers that have piloted or are piloting the packaging, they said, include Hy-Vee, Meijer and Festival Foods.
Other benefits of flow wrap packaging include no leaks, drips or mess; clear packaging that enables shoppers to see both sides of the meat; and easy-open tear edges, Tyson noted.
“We’re pleased to offer a straightforward and immediate way for retailers to meet the demands of the environmentally conscious consumer while also doing our part to minimize plastic waste,” Rikki Ingram, director of fresh meats marketing at Tyson Foods, said in a statement. “A recent consumer tracking survey showed consumers are willing to pay 20% more for more sustainably produced fresh meat products. New packaging, like flow wrap, is one way suppliers can help retailers meet consumer demand.”
Indeed, the FMI-The Food Industry Association and North American Meat Institute’s 2023 “Power of Meat” study, presented at AMC, found that 52% of meat eaters surveyed weigh environmental factors such as sustainability and recycling when making food and meat product choices at the grocery store. Also, 85% of meat eaters consider at least one “better for” area—among health, planet, animal welfare or social responsibility—when purchasing meat and poultry, a percentage unchanged from the past few years.
Also at AMC, Tyson debuted its All Natural Premium Pork case-ready product line, which includes cuts such as bone-in and boneless loins, pork sirloin and pork shoulder butt. The company, too, showcased case-ready offerings from its Chairman’s Reserve Meats and Open Prairie Natural Meats premium brands. The Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork products are designed to bring restaurant-quality pork to the self-serve meat case, while the Open Prairie Natural Meats’ line is positioned as an affordable natural option for beef and pork.
“Consumers today demand value, variety and convenience,” according to Kent Harrison, vice president of fresh meats marketing and premium programs for Tyson. “Fresh meats play a critical role in how consumers choose their store, and our research shows that the right brands, assortment and packaging improve the shopper’s perception of not just the meat department but the overall store.”