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Flexible Packaging and the Benefits for the Plant-Based Meat Market

With consumers, restaurants, and fast-food chains embracing plant-based meat products, brands like Impossible™ Foods and Beyond Meat® continue to work to differentiate themselves from the animal protein market and other plant-based brands. When placed among the sea of red in a retailer’s meat department, it may become even more difficult to make a statement.

Choosing reclosable flexible packaging can help plant-based meat brands stand out as they align with consumer preferences and brand initiatives. Flexible packaging offers plant-based meat products the opportunity to incorporate a variety of consumer benefits – from added convenience to extended freshness. Plus, reclosable stand-up pouches are already a proven solution within the food industry, and consumers are familiar and comfortable with the format.

Here are some more ways the plant-based meat industry can benefit from reclosable flexible packaging.

1. Communicate Plant-Based Brand Value Through Packaging

As with any new product or market, there may be preconceived notions or consumer misconceptions about plant-based products that brands need to overcome. For example, we saw early consumer confusion around messaging from plant-based products as being “meatier” than animal-based meat. This kind of unclear messaging required brands to reconsider their marketing approach and stray from the meat industry’s traditional tactics and language.

Nielsen states that because meat alternatives are inherently processed, brands must reassure consumers of the good that’s gone into their products in order to maintain trust and drive repeat purchasing. A study by IBM and the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that almost 80% of North Americans want to know the origin of the products they buy, and 69% of these consumers would pay a premium for brands that provide this information.

woman shopping with plant based meat packaging

Flexible pouches offer enhanced graphics via emerging flexographic or digital printing technology and with that, the ability to boldly billboard new messages to educate consumers about the product and its benefits. This eliminates ambiguity and customer misinterpretation.

For example, the icon from the Plant Based Foods Association Certified Plant Based seal program can be used on product packaging to reinforce consumer confidence in the benefits of plant-based meat. The addition of QR codes and augmented reality-enabled packaging gives plant-based meat brands the opportunity to take education a step further, as consumers can use their phones to engage with content promoting the environmental benefits of both the product and package. This allows brands to make a statement and further stand out.

2. Support Sustainable Lifestyles with Eco-Friendly Packaging

In the same IBM and NRF study, 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada indicated that it’s important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly. These already environmentally conscious consumers are likely also concerned about the sustainability of packaging.

plant based meat hamburger tree

When properly implemented, flexible packaging reduces waste from the start of the package’s lifecycle – minimizing its carbon footprint during production, requiring lower quantities of energy during shipping, and preventing additional waste from ending up in landfills. Reclosable pouches also help keep food products from spoiling, helping combat food waste, which is costly to consumers and negative for the planet.

The advancement of mono-material films and compatible closures has opened the door to 100% recyclable packaging that can complement the sustainable nature of plant-based products. In order for the flexible pouch to be fully recyclable, each element of the pouch must meet individual requirements for package functionality, product protection, and recyclability.

Closures in the Fresh-Lock® 8000 series are designed for compatibility with sustainable film technologies. In addition to being a functional and sustainable option for consumers, these closures enable faster packaging machine speeds and reliable sealing for brands, helping reduce waste and energy consumption during manufacturing.

The new Fresh-Lock® zipper style 8253 forms the top of a package in a single component process which can help save time and money, and it’s more sustainable than other processes. This Zipper Top™ closure is also fully extruded for a single component process, making it a more sustainable reclosable pouch top option while eliminating delamination concerns.

fresh-lock zipper style 8253

Image: Fresh-Lock® zipper style 8253

Closures outside of the 8000 series like Fresh-Lock® style 345 have been specially designed to meet the challenges of thermoform packaging often used in processed meats. Style 345 provides a wider operating window which helps reduce waste, and it machines well at faster line speeds with high-integrity seals that won’t leak, gap, or distort. This ensures a functional closure and fresh product for the consumer.

Fresh-Lock closure style 345

Image: Fresh-Lock® style 345

When paired with the proper closure, flexible packaging allows plant-based meat brands the opportunity to offer an ideal consumer experience and differentiate their product.

Making a Lasting Impact

Since 41% of Americans gave plant-based meat a try, and 60% are likely to keep eating it (Gallup), it’s safe to say this trend is here to stay. Creating a loyal customer base for this protein market not only requires a product that customers love but also packaging that adds convenience, freshness, and aligns with a sustainable lifestyle. For those long-time non-meat eaters like vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about the environment, they can feel satisfied knowing that their food’s packaging can now align with their overall lifestyle.

The plant-based meat industry is a natural fit for flexible packaging as solutions continue to evolve and advance with new technology. Fresh-Lock’s product catalog and team of experts is here to make the transition to flexible packaging seamless.

Learn more about our sustainable solutions and how they impact your business with our exclusive on-demand webinar, Growth in Green: Opportunities in Sustainable Flexible Packaging. Or, contact the Fresh-Lock® team today.

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