One barrier to offering snacking options that utilize fresh foods in the deli/prepared foods section is proper packaging.
To address this issue, a group from the IDDBA Show & Sell Committee that included representatives from Tyson Foods, Rich Products Corp. and a unidentified retailer enlisted the help of Milliken & Co., in conjunction with Display Pack Inc., to create “Pick Your Plate” plastic packaging.
“Our research shows there is a substantial growth opportunity for snacking within the deli/prepared foods department,” said Amber Langston, channel marketing manager for Tyson Foods and 2017 IDDBA Show & Sell Deli Committee member. Langston added that the majority—58 percent—of shoppers look to center store to fulfill their snacking needs, while the deli only captures 18 percent.
The Pick Your Plate concept features a rigid plastic tray with four wedge-shaped cavities in which consumers can place individual 10- or 20-oz. lidded tubs of prepackaged hot or cold food.
The new packaging allows customers to mix and match for a completely customized snack or meal. The packaging is microwaveable for reheating at home or the workplace; designed for both hot and cold cases; has a glass-like clarity, both lid and base; and is easily recyclable.
The tray makes it easy to carry multiple containers, and doubles as a plate.
For consumers, a major advantage of the Pick Your Plate concept is the flexibility it gives them to choose as many portions as they want, as well as the size of the individual portions.
The package also has advantages for store operations. Employees in the deli/prepared food section never need to worry whether or not a package is hot-case approved. Using one type of packaging for both hot and cold foods helps to simplify the supply chain and reduce inventory, and flexible packaging accommodates a variety of food options.
“This convenient packaging design is suitable for a wide range of fresh, prepared foods, like our Authentic Hickory Smoked BBQ Pork, Beef Brisket or Chicken,” said Kristi Robey, culinary manager for Rich Products Corp. “In addition to prepared foods, desserts and other bakery items would work well with the packaging. Basically, if it can be sold as a smaller portion, it can be included in this concept.”
Robey and the Show & Sell Deli Committee propose these options for Pick Your Plate: fresh fruit, prepared salads, green salads, boneless chicken wings or tenders, meatballs, Crispitos, calzones, olives, fresh vegetables, dips, sides and cheese/meat combos.
‘We believe that the concept of selecting individually packaged items to customize a snack or small meal is the first of its kind in the fresh prepared food arena,” said Andy Blackmore, director of sales and marketing for Display Pack. “The Pick Your Plate collaboration has produced an innovative concept that will open retailers’ and food manufacturers’ eyes to the close relationship between fresh prepared foods and high-quality packaging.”