Innovation in poultry packaging is driving change in the sector as European packers and retailers look for more sustainable and novel solutions to maximise sales, according to Alan Davey, innovation director, at fresh food packaging manufacturer, LINPAC.

Traditionally, polypropylene (PP) has been the material of choice for poultry packaging in parts of Europe, but limitations in terms of its environmental credentials, barrier performance and shelf appeal have resulted in increased demand for Rfresh PET packaging.

Mr Davey said: “Changing consumer lifestyles and heightened awareness of environmental issues are behind this shift.

“PET has been a popular choice for poultry packaging for some time but the full range of benefits that the material has over PP are only just beginning to be recognised by packers and retailers. Beyond the aesthetic benefits given by PET’s clarity and sparkle, lie environmental credentials and much better gas barrier performance.”

In addition, trays manufactured using rPET, laminated to PE, can be sealed at reduced temperatures in comparison to PP trays and as a result use less energy.

Environmentally, rPET fulfils the criteria for creating a circular economy by conserving resources and reducing waste. At LINPAC, a wide range of PET/PE and rPET/PE poultry trays are manufactured that are fully compatible with existing packing and sealing lines and available with complementary lidding films, offering a high performing complete pack solution.

Research shows consumers spend three times longer choosing poultry in-store to assess its freshness, compared to other foods. PET aides purchasing decisions by offering crystal clear tray presentation compared to the cloudy appearance of PP. However, this clarity can also present a challenge for retailers as poultry isn’t always attractive in its raw state.

Mr Davey added: “As a result, innovation in poultry packaging is very much focused on improving on-shelf appearance through high quality graphics, novel shapes and sizes, as well as promoting convenience and ease of use.”

Latest innovations include ‘straight-to-oven’ bags, flexible flow packs, vacuum skin packaging (VSP), packs complete with complementary sauces, laminated back boards or trays which offer traditional designs helping to present poultry as farm fresh or organic and boxed packs with windows.

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