In this video series, The National Provisioner editor-in-chief Andy Hanacek discusses trends in the industry with Jorge Izquierdo of PMMI. This episode focuses on packaging and technology specifically geared to frozen meat and poultry.
Andy Hanacek: I want to talk about frozen meat and poultry packaging. In that arena, top line, what are one or two innovations that you have seen recently that make you say “wow” or “cool?”
Jorge Izquierdo: In terms of implementation and innovation, [we see] more and more re-sealable products. You find it in the freezer, you use it, and you re-close it. You can use it again. [I see] more and more portion packaging. Meaning, you go to Costco and you buy two pounds of meat, but it's not a big chunk of meat. It’s packed in portions. You’re still buying the two pounds, but it’s in portions. You can keep them in the freezer. You don’t have a problem like when you open it and the rest gets freezer burn. It will remain fresh and the taste, the look of it will be more suitable and more in accordance with how you use it. The portions are enough for a meal. You just extend the life of the product.
Hanacek: I love those saddle packs of chicken breasts. I buy those all the time and throw them in the freezer. Pull one off, and none of the others get freezer burned or ruined. You don’t have to make six pounds of chicken and then make leftovers. I agree it’s good stuff. Are there any other innovations on the frozen side? You said implementation-wise. Are you seeing any packaging being catered toward frozen specifically?
Izquierdo: We’re finding in terms of the technology for the processing is more and more the use of robotics. [We also see] more and more the use of in certain cases, starting to use what they call collaborative robots. That’s an area where there are very good applications for robots, and it is starting to happen. I think we will see a significant increase in the use of robots in meat and poultry. One of the concerns the manufacturers are sharing is the cost and the availability of labor. So that’s something we are going to see more and more of in the future.
Hanacek: It’s been amazing in the last decade-plus that I’ve been on the magazine to watch the packaging, cartooning, and logistical side of the equation become more and more automated, because I remember being kind of amazed coming in to see people still hand-cartoning and hand-packing and things like that. To see the slow evolution of that is very cool.
Izquierdo: I’m going to tell you that the pace of change is increasing significantly and will be increasing significantly more in the next few years. Again, the availability of labor and the cost of labor are two significant drivers of this change.
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.