Earlier this year, BRANDPACKAGING magazine, a sister publication of The National Provisioner, published its first-ever Sustainable Packaging Design Gallery, highlighting “packages that have creatively addressed their impact on the environment” across a wide variety of manufacturing segments.

Included on the list of 20 were a handful of food and beverage products, including Back To Nature Seed and Herb Crackers from Kraft Foods and Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Brewing Co., but no protein products made the magazine’s final cut.

“Meat and poultry brands seem to have put their big sustainable push into distribution packaging, with smaller master-case sizes and the like,” explains Pauline Hammerbeck, editor-in-chief of BRANDPACKAGING. “While that’s admirable, our focus is on retail packaging.”

Whether you agree or not with their picks, the fact remains no protein products made the cut for innovative, sustainable packaging in the retail sphere. But that doesn’t mean the protein-processing industry is mired in a desert of wasteful packaging opulence. Many processors, in fact, have launched sustainable-packaging initiatives and products sporting packages that, in some way, contribute to a smaller carbon footprint.

“We are starting to see some leading-edge brands, like Murray’s Chickens and Just BARE chicken, that are reducing their use of packaging materials and making use of more sustainable materials, and then using those changes as a point of difference by communicating them to consumers,” Hammerbeck adds.

On the following pages are a few examples of products in the meat, poultry, seafood and prepared-foods segments that have elevated sustainability to a level of importance in their package design. By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but a selection of products from the past year or so, gleaned from The National Provisioner’s New Products section, BRANDPACKAGING’s research, Mintel International’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), and other releases and news reports. We hope it provides inspiration to product and package developers who might find ways to incorporate these ideas into their product lines. (To view all the product images, view our Digital Edition, pages 64-69)

Murray’s Chickens products

Murray’s Chickens

Replaces the inexpensive, traditional foam tray with single-material package that is freezer-safe andleak-resistant (also reduced size of all master-casing in conjunction).

Microwaveable tubs of BBQ meat

Lloyd’s Barbeque Co.

Eliminates the throw-away printed cardboard sleeves around the microwaveable tubs and features dietary and product information printed directly on the tub.

Just BARE chicken

Gold’n Plump Poultry

Transparent, recyclable plastic package offers a “nearly 360-degree view” of the chicken inside, while eliminating the foam tray and plastic overwrap.


Oscar Mayer

Redesigned packaging features recyclable sleeves, bottom trays and water bottles.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls

Sara Lee

Package is recyclable, and claim on package states that it is made in cooperation with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Fish sticks

Ian’s Natural Foods

Features an 8-ounce, 100 percent recyclable paperboard box.

Breaded Chicken Breast Tenderloins

Tyson Foods

Features a redesigned, 10-ounce recyclable package.

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

General Mills (Romano’s Macaroni Grill)

Retails in 9.8-ounce, 100 percent recyclable carton.

Fresh Pantry Pork Loin Chops

Hormel Foods

Retails in a 12.6-ounce, 100 percent recyclable, vacuum-packed roasting pan.