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Globalisation of meat trade presents challenges for packaging

From Global Meat News

Developing packaging that ensures exported products arrive in the optimum condition is a challenge for manufacturers as the meat industry becomes increasingly globalised. According to Alan Davey, director of innovation at Linpac Packaging, a key challenge for the meat and poultry industry is the distance products sometimes have to travel between the processor, retailer and consumer.

The packaging needs to be fit-for-purpose in terms of protecting, preserving and presenting food to the highest standard, Davey added.

Shelf-life is affected by four main factors: the initial bacterial population on the meat, temperature, time and atmosphere. “Bacterial growth and, in the case of red meat, oxidation of the red oxymyoglobin pigment are the main spoilage mechanisms that limit the shelf-life of raw meat and poultry,” explained Davey. Therefore suitable packaging for cuts of meat going to the end-consumer include: overwrapped trays, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum skin packaging (VSP).

Both MAP and VSP extend shelf-life compared to overwrapped meat, he said. “In MAP the gain is measured in a few days, but extension in VSP can be three to four weeks. This is crucial for retailers as it brings improved inventory and order management, supply chain efficiency and a reduction in in-store food waste.” While VSP has been slower in winning favour with consumers, it is growing rapidly within the UK meat industry, for example, “because of the extended shelf-life it offers, enabling products to be transported for longer distances, suiting the global supply chain structure”, he said.

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