In this video series, The National Provisioner editor-in-chief Andy Hanacek discusses trends in the industry with Jorge Izquierdo of PMMI. This episode discusses the pros and cons of rigid packaging versus flexible packaging and why manufacturers may prefer one over the other.

Andy Hanacek: Let’s talk a little bit about meat and poultry in the retail case, specifically the war between rigid case ready MAP packaging versus that overwrapped flexible thing that is going on. A few years ago everyone wanted to do those trays with the MAP packaging and everything, and now you still see a lot of it, but overwrap has become quite the buzz word. What are you seeing? What is PMMI seeing in that arena?

Jorge Izquierdo: You’re right. I wouldn’t say there’s a fight. There’s a balance between the tray and the wrapped, flexible film products. It depends on the application. I would say in general more and more manufacturers are moving toward flexible because you are saving in materials, it’s more environmentally friendly, less amount of packaging materials you are putting out in the environment. But also you need to keep in mind what you want to accomplish. In some food products, for example, if you are using a modified atmosphere [packaging], a tray is more suitable for those presentations. It looks better. The appeal might be better for modified atmosphere [packaging]. Now in case of vacuum packaging, it’s different. It’s the opposite. Vacuum packaging has the advantage that the amount of film you use is less. Even better in terms of material. The thickness of the film is also different, and the life of the product is also extended. It’s a balance of what type of product you are packing. If it is ready to eat or if it requires some cooking. So it depends. It’s a balance, but in general, the trend goes more towards flexible packaging.

Hanacek: Now are you seeing anything that is… again, I know in one of these other episodes, I used the word revolutionary, so I’ll use that word again. It doesn’t necessarily have to be revolutionary, but in terms of flexible packaging with fresh meat and poultry, have you seen anything that you made you say, “wow?”

Izquierdo: One of the things we are finding is certainly in terms of materials. Films that help extend the shelf life of the product. Some type of labels, markers that can tell you if the product has been out of the cold chain. More and more use of different technologies. Not necessarily new technologies, but much more of it in terms of vacuum, modified atmosphere and high pressure processing. Kind of looking to move away from preservatives and into natural products, and trying to keep flavors and textures as well.

Hanacek: And flexible allows a lot of that?

Izquierdo: Absolutely!

Keep an eye out and watch the rest of The National Provisioner’s video series on trends in the industry with Jorge Izquierdo of PMMI.