FreshCase packaging—a new material technology from Curwood for case-ready meats—delivers the superior flavor, quality and extended shelf life of vacuum packaging; the fresh red color consumers prefer; and cost advantages that help processors and retailers maintain critical profit margins.


FreshCase packaging is an FDA- and USDA-approved technology engineered to maintain fresh red color in a vacuum package. For the consumer, the attractive, leak-proof packages are easy to open; freezer-ready; and can be stored in the refrigerator, ready-to-cook, until the use-by date. For retailers, the hermetic packaging offers a shelf life of more than 30 days for whole muscle beef and extends typical retail display life up to 28 days compared to 3-5 days for tray overwraps. This advancement leads to significant cost savings from reduced markdowns, spoilage, waste and labor costs for repackaging.

FreshCase packaging also significantly decreases packaging and logistic costs—as well as material waste and energy usage—compared to MAP packaging. FreshCase vacuum packages use up to 75% less packaging material than MAP packages. By eliminating MAP gases, FreshCase packaging can nearly double the amount of meat transported per truck.

Since FreshCase packaging transforms the way fresh meat can be processed, distributed and merchandised, it becomes economically feasible to centralize cutting and packaging operations for efficient national distribution. Product safety is also improved by minimizing potential product contamination during shipping and handling.

“Our market research shows that consumers really like vacuum-packaged fresh meats and associate vacuum packaging with freshness,” said Bill Goerich, senior market manager at Curwood. “They like the leak-proof seals, the visibility of the meat and the convenience of ready-to-prepare fresh meat with no defrosting. Now, with breakthrough FreshCase packaging, processors can deliver the desired red color consumers expect and significantly extend the selling window, while realizing lower packaging costs.”

In a recent independent survey conducted across nine cities, more than 80% of respondents preferred the red color of FreshCase packed meats over meat in traditional purple vacuum packages. The ability to maintain beef’s fresh, natural, bloomed color maximizes the full potential of vacuum packaging for meat processors, eliminating retail challenges of purple beef in traditional vacuum packaging.

Vacuum packaging is an ideal format for case-ready meats because it allows meat to age properly, while offering significantly longer shelf life and reducing loss due to spoilage. Since vacuum-packaged meats require no headspace for gases, the package fits the product and does not look overpackaged. Meats also retain their juices, so there is little, if any, purge. Soaker pads can typically be eliminated. In addition, the format does not turn bones black like gas-flushed packaging can. It also eliminates the cost of gas, oxygen absorbers and master packs.

Developed for fresh beef, FreshCase materials are available for many formats including forming and non-forming films, vacuum skin packaging, trays and semi-rigid films with VSP and ground beef chubs. The films run on horizontal, VSP and chub equipment. An EZ Peel opening feature can be added which allows even the most form-fitting package to open effortlessly without knives or scissors.

For more information on FreshCase packaging, call Curwood customer service at

(800) 544-4672, email or visit