Portion packs gain traction in war on domestic food waste

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Portion packs appear to be winning over converters and brandowners in the armoury being deployed against domestic food waste.

This type of pack allows the consumer to use a proportion of the contents and leave the rest sealed for later consumption, either in the fridge or freezer.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has actively promoted this type of packaging concept and, last year, published consumer research regarding different split-pack formats for meat and poultry. In this case, the pack favoured by the consumer panel was a traditional rigid tray divided and sealed down the middle.

Head of WRAP's Food & Drink Programme Andy Dawe said: "In the UK each year, around 290,000t of meat and fish products are unnecessarily thrown away by consumers, valued at an estimated £1.6bn."​ Over a quarter of this tonnage is accounted for by poultry, he added. "WRAP continues to work closely with retailers to explore packaging innovations to help reduce household food waste."

Packaging converters are also playing their part. Linpac Packaging has launched a new range of split portion packs, targeting meat products in time for the summer barbecue season.

In the past, Linpac's only compartmentalised packs were used for complementary products, such as sauces or salad ingredients. "But, for the first time, we've designed a pack with a definite seal between the two sections, so they can be opened individually without compromising the seal of the remaining pack or its shelf-life,"​ said vice president of marketing and innovation, Joanna Stephenson.

Despite the cost and weight implications for trays and other rigid packaging, portion packs have caught the imagination of categories beyond fresh meat and poultry. Innovations such as RPC's recent cheese snack packs for Dairy Crest are part of a trend towards convenience formats in the packed lunch and food-on-the-go markets.

For its part, Linpac emphasised the cost-effectiveness of its two-compartment tray.

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