July 1, 2020
The materials used to package case-ready meat are designed to maximize protection while extending shelf life, freshness, and flavor. High-quality packaging technologies such as barrier films, vacuum sealing, or modified atmospheres can ensure freshness up to 2X longer than meats that sit in the full-service counter. And for some retailers, eliminating the fresh cutting and packaging operation in store could help free up valuable cooled space to be repurposed for emerging needs, such as staging e-commerce pickups of perishable items.
Seasonal demand patterns for fresh proteins like beef, poultry, or pork are established enough that the primary distribution model for perishables is built around just-in-time inventory. When production is disrupted at meat processing plants, it can be difficult for them to pivot. Labor scarcity remains a problem, which has only been exacerbated by plant closings amid global health concerns.
When supply disruption occurs, the amount of in-store handling required for primal cut meats can make it challenging to keep your shelves and counter well stocked. Back-of-house chores such as unpackaging, hand-cutting and repackaging require time that could be put to better use making sure your shelves stay stocked and ready for your customers. Now more than ever, every ounce of meat that moves through the supply chain needs to do so in a way that can minimize handling and maximize shelf life.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things we are experiencing as a result of this pandemic is that new habits are being formed and driving us much faster toward an omnichannel grocery environment. While this has implications across the entire food supply chain, now might be a great time to think about how a change to more case ready fresh meat packaging could help you be ready for whatever comes next.