When it comes to enjoying culinary delights, many consumers have turned to their kitchens instead of restaurants. They are creating their own unique dishes and spending quality time cooking with their families.
According to a food study report by HUNTER, this trend will not go away any time soon. The report found that Americans are cooking more and baking more, and 71% of those who are will continue to do so at home regardless of circumstances.
This growing number of home chefs has created an increase in demand for many product categories. Dairy in particular has seen a drastic increase in demand, especially cheese products that are ideal for home consumption, like 6- to 8-ounce shredded and sliced cheeses. In fact, shredded natural cheese has seen the largest sales gains in the natural cheese category, increasing 22.8% to $5,982 million during the year ending October 4, 2020 (IRI).
Cheese Packaging for E-Commerce
In addition to cooking at home, many consumers are now buying groceries from home. Insider Intelligence’s Online Grocery Report projects that the adoption of online grocery shopping will reach 55% of U.S. consumers by the end of 2024, and pending outside influences, that number could potentially reach 66%.
This increase has led fresh food segments like cheese to find proper distribution methods to ensure product integrity upon delivery. For cheese, refrigeration and quick distribution are key. Soft cheeses like brie, feta, and Munster that contain a lot of moisture must be refrigerated at all times, while cheddar and other hard cheeses can tolerate some level of temperature variation.
Flexible packaging with compatible closures is an excellent answer to these challenges, as it can maintain the appropriate atmosphere within cheese packaging during refrigerated distribution. The durability of flexible films also helps protect the product throughout the rigorous e-commerce supply chain, which can leave other packaging formats damaged and result in negative impressions about the brand, or worse, a contaminated product.
Functional Flexible Packaging for Cheese
After delivery, cheese packaging must provide an optimal consumer experience and extend the product’s shelf life. Home cooks – especially new home cooks – who have a bad experience with packaging may be less likely to buy the same product in the future.
Flexible packaging offers the barrier properties and closure technologies necessary to keep cheese fresh after the package has been opened and reclosed. Because a lot of cheese products are used over the course of days, the packaging has to maintain a moisture barrier after each reclose to prevent the cheese from drying out or getting moldy.
Fresh-Lock® Double Lock Zippers, including styles 122, 142, and 242, are all excellent options for maintaining this moisture barrier. The double zipper structure of these closures helps to slow down moisture transmission rates and keeps the cheese at the same moisture level as when it was first opened.
In addition to consumer benefits, Double Lock Zippers provide a number of manufacturing advantages:
- Easy crushing locks require minimal heat for sealing, which helps protect films from distorting while allowing faster converting cycles.
- Made of Soft Seal® material and leveraging our sealant rib technology to help converting performance for high integrity seals that won’t leak, gap, or distort.
- Works seamlessly with a wide variety of high-speed packaging equipment.
- Style 142 has a ribbed sealant and Style 242 is a flat sealant.
- Available with either clear or colored locks.
Audible-tactile features are also beneficial for cheese packaging, as consumers want confirmation that the package is closed. Fresh-Lock® Click ’N Lock™ Sensory Zippers have become a preferred choice on cheese packaging. These zippers provide an easy open and close with an audible snap and solid touch for each section as it closes.
This portfolio of closures also offers a number of benefits to packagers:
- Available in a portfolio of zipper styles.
- Enhanced sealant layer adheres easily to film structures.
- Available in clear and colored locks.
- Ideal for food, pet food and treats, and lawn and garden.
Flexible Packaging for Cheese Supports Sustainability
Another benefit of reclosable flexible packaging for home chefs is the opportunity to support sustainability. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. discards nearly 40 million tons of food every year, equating to 219 pounds of waste per person. Additionally, containers and packaging amounted to 82.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation in 2018 (28.1% of total MSW generation) (EPA). Of this, 30.5 million tons went to landfills.
By extending product shelf life and providing opportunities for package circularity, flexible packaging can help curb these problems at the consumer level. For products like cheese that leave residue in the package after use, education is a must so that consumers understand how to properly clean and recycle the packaging.
Home chefs will enjoy knowing that their support of flexible packaging has environmental benefits at the manufacturing stage as well. Optimizing a package’s lifecycle by designing waste out of the package at the earliest stages of development is a great method for achieving source reduction. Fewer materials and natural resources are required to produce flexible packaging, and its lightweight format helps reduce carbon emissions from transportation.
All of these benefits must be communicated to consumers to get them excited about supporting flexible packaging.
Ideal Cheese Packaging for Home Cooks
Product protection. Functionality. Sustainability. Cheese packaging that can provide these benefits to home chefs will stand out among the multitude of choices and help drive repeat purchases. A reclosable flexible pouch with Fresh-Lock® technology can ensure that no matter who is in charge of applying the cheese to a dish, from the most experienced cook to the youngest family member, the product can be easily and properly resealed for an optimal experience.
If you do not see a closure option that fits your needs or don’t know what would work best with your cheese product, contact the Fresh-Lock team today, and we can help you develop the best solution for your needs.