New FreshCase vacuum packaging delivers the extended shelf life and fresh red color that meat processors have sought for decades, dramatically reducing spoilage and helping maintain profit margins.
March 29, 2011
by Canadian Packaging Staff
FreshCase packaging—a groundbreaking new material technology from Curwood for case-ready meats—delivers the superior flavor, quality and extended shelf life of vacuum packaging; the fresh red color beef consumers prefer; and cost advantages that help processors and retailers maintain critical profit margins.
According to Curwood, an Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based supplier of innovative packaging materials and systems for food, beverage, household, industrial and personal care industries, its FreshCase packaging is an FDA- and USDA-approved technology engineered to maintain fresh red color in a vacuum package.
For the consumer, the attractive, leak-proof packages are easy to open; freezer-ready; and can be stored in the refrigerator, ready-to-cook, until the best-before date.
For retailers, the hermetic packaging offers a shelf life of more than 30 days for whole muscle beef and extends typical retail display life up to 28 days compared to three to five days for tray overwraps-an advancement that offers cost savings from reduced markdowns, spoilage, waste and labor costs for repackaging.
FreshCase packaging also significantly decreases packaging and logistic costs—as well as material waste and energy usage—compared to MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) packaging. FreshCase vacuum packages use up to 75 per cent less packaging material than MAP packages. By eliminating MAP gases, FreshCase packaging can nearly double the amount of meat transported per truck.
Since FreshCase packaging transforms the way fresh meat can be processed, distributed and merchandised, it becomes economically feasible to centralize cutting and packaging operations for efficient national distribution. Product safety is also improved by minimizing potential product contamination during shipping and handling.
“Our market research shows that consumers really like vacuum-packaged fresh meats and associate vacuum packaging with freshness,” says Bill Goerich, senior market manager at Curwood. “They like the leak-proof seals, the visibility of the meat and the convenience of ready-to-prepare fresh meat with no defrosting. Now, with breakthrough FreshCase packaging, processors can deliver the desired red color consumers expect and significantly extend the selling window, while realizing lower packaging costs.”
Vacuum packaging is an ideal format for case-ready meats because it allows meat to age properly, while offering significantly longer shelf life and reducing loss due to spoilage. Since vacuum-packaged meats require no headspace for gases, the package fits the product and does not look overpackaged. Meats also retain their juices, so there is little, if any, purge. Soaker pads can typically be eliminated. In addition, the format does not turn bones black like gas-flushed packaging can. It also eliminates the cost of gas, oxygen absorbers and master packs.
Developed for fresh beef, FreshCase materials are available for many formats including forming and non-forming films, vacuum skin packaging, trays and semi-rigid films with VSP and ground beef chubs.
The films run on horizontal, VSP (vacuum skin packaging) and chub equipment. An EZ Peel opening feature can be added which allows even the most form-fitting package to open effortlessly without knives or scissors.
Curwood is part of the Bemis Company family, a major supplier of flexible packaging and pressure sensitive materials used by leading food, consumer products, healthcare and other companies worldwide.