Meat & Protein Tray Packaging Design Trends 2022

Meat & Protein Tray Packaging Design Trends 2022 (Infographic)

Developing design trends for meat and protein trays in 2022 reflect social and environmental changes along with grocery, deli, and food processing industry priorities. From colors to functionality, as the world around us is changing, so does packaging.

We’re going to explore four trends and talk about changes coming soon in the meat and produce replacement area of food packaging. Our experts weighed in on what they saw and gave a glimpse into the near future.

The biggest thing happening in the industry is the quickening of state and local bans on EPS foam trays. Many food producers are now forced to consider alternatives.

1.      EasyPak Patented Honeycomb as a Cost-Effective Replacement for EPS Foam

The north-eastern seaboard is leading the charge towards more environmentally responsible meat tray materials, as places like New York State ban EPS foam. Other states, including Colorado, Virginia, and Washington State, also rolled out laws. No matter which side of the issue your opinions fall on, food producers, grocery stores, and meat processing companies are now looking for the best replacement for foam trays.

Current States

• Maine
• Maryland
• New York
• New Jersey
• Vermont
• Washington, D.C.

Upcoming EPS Bans
• Colorado (January 2024)
• Virginia (July 2023 for large businesses and July 2025 for small businesses)
• Washington (June 2024 coolers and foodservice products)

The good news may be for the environment, as proponents say, but the bad news is that most options are more expensive and require even more packaging, including absorbent pads, to keep food fresh.

One design trend for meat and protein trays is that using post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials with cutting-edge design features that reduce the need for absorbent pads.

The advantages of rPET and technology in protein packaging

PCR Honeycomb meat and protein trays lock in moisture, protecting the freshness and display qualities of fresh-packaged foods. We believe that producers will opt to save money on soaker pads, and choose sturdy, sustainable, rPET packaging with film-sealing capabilities that keep food fresher longer, like those of our patented Honeycomb meat and produce replacement trays.

Yes, we said produce, and that leads us to the next trend; the technology of meat and protein trays will become standard in produce as well.

2.      A New Normal: Extending Shelf-life for Produce

Cut veggies, freshly packaged shucked corn, cucumber, and sliced watermelon, not just a sign of summer – but also a well-loved consumer favorite on grocery store shelves. As producers, delis, and produce departments move away from the added expense of absorbent pads, the multiple uses of the features offered by meat and protein trays make sense.

Film seal capabilities add to the already better display possibilities of moisture regulating packaging than many produce-centered products, allowing produce packaging to display beautiful food longer. Producers are looking for the best possible bang for their buck, meat and produce replacement packaging delivers.

3.      Clearly Better. (Meat and Protein Tray Color)

If you know anything about old-school meat tray colors, you know it’s red for pork, blue for seafood, yellow for chicken, and white for specific cuts, among other rules. The old standards of colored trays, like those we just mentioned, are being phased out. Not just because that’s best for sustainability but also due to consumer awareness and display capabilities.

Our experts are seeing a more significant push towards clear trays instead of black and colored trays. Plastics must be sorted by color for recycling, as the color is not removed during the process. This means that even one tiny shred of the wrong color could taint an entire batch of the plastic polymer during the process. As consumer awareness of the recycling difficulties of colored plastics becomes more widespread, that drives the industry away from the old standard colors for protein packaging and towards a clear standard.

Along with that change, consumers also find that they like seeing all sides of their food.  The crystal-clear display of food products, especially with oxygen barrier qualities of PET, allows your customers to feel confident in their purchase without exposing the product to air.

4.      Food Processor and Handling Priorities

Food packaging suppliers will dig in and begin adapting packaging further to the needs of large-scale food producers, grocery stores, delis, and other packers and processors. We predict the desire to capture the advantages of PET and other polymers and increase convenience and value for their customers. Food packaging sustainability, visual aspects, and features are on the drawing board again.

The Future is Coming, EasyPak is Ready

There’s big news on the horizon for packers and processors as EasyPak gets ready to unveil changes in their meat and produce replacement line designed to meet the specific needs of large-scale production. We know every aspect of your packaging matters and have reimagined packaging specifically with at-scale production, transportation, shelf-life, and display in mind.

Your bottom line is our concern, and we look forward to rolling out our advanced packer-processor-friendly changes coming soon.

We’re Here to Help

At EasyPak, meeting our customers’ needs is our top priority.

Our new, easy-to-use Product Search Helper eliminates frustration from the search for the perfect product for your meat and protein tray needs. After a quick quiz, you’ll instantly receive a list of product packaging options best fit for you. Once you find your perfect match, you can request a sample or connect with an EasyPak expert.

Ready to dig into your options? Reach out to a representative with an informed and supportive team member today or Request a Sample.

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