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Making quality count in the meat sector

The growth of 'Flexitarianism'

Are you a ‘flexitarian’?  This is a description increasingly used to describe individuals who choose not to eat meat regularly – another term is ‘flexible vegetarian’.  Apparently this is one of this year’s biggest food trends.

Whether you buy into this as a long-lasting development or regard it as just another fad, there are important implications for the meat industry. Because, when these flexitarians do choose to eat meat, it is more than likely they will seek out a premium cut and a high-quality product. Indeed, quality is a driving factor for many consumers in their purchases of meat – perhaps one of the lasting results of the horse meat scandal of 2013.

Keeping up appearances

Packaging says a great deal about your product, particularly in conveying that vital quality message.  Creating differentiation in crowded and competitive markets is also important.  Companies are therefore seeking to innovate with new products and recipes with a modern twist while using their packaging to reflect their longstanding heritage and tradition.

There are other factors to take into account in the introduction of new packs. Environmental concerns are leading to the introduction of more sustainable solutions, for example PET packs, some of which contain post-consumer recyclate, and flexible packaging incorporating additives that help prevent bacteria growth for increased shelf life and reduced waste.

The importance of presentation

When it comes to investing in new packaging, the provision of printed variable information, such as use-by dates and batch codes, may not appear that significant.  After all, it’s a ‘must-do’ task covered by regulations and retailer requirements.

However, if the aim of your packaging is to convey a premium, quality image, then a poorly-printed, smudged or illegible code can sometimes attract attention for all the wrong reasons.

By comparison, a well-presented, discreet yet clear and legible code will ensure that this information does not detract from the pack’s overall appearance. It also offers an unconscious measure of reassurance to customers that their purchase is indeed all quality.

Legibility is equally critical to ensure your packs comply with all relevant legislation and retailer standards in order to avoid recalls.

Make it stick

Selection of the most appropriate printer is essential to achieve the quality codes that will support your brand reputation.  For example, you may need a model that is able to code in the chilled, humid or damp atmospheres that often characterise meat packing operations; and for ink jet printers, an ink that can be effectively applied and continue to adhere to the substrate through a thin layer of grease or moisture.

The introduction of new pack types could also require selection of a specialist ink that can deliver the necessary levels of clarity and legibility on particular materials, such as one specifically developed for PET packs.

Enhance your brand

Printers with the ability to print multiple lines of text and machine readable codes could enable meat processors to include extra information about the product and from where it has been sourced.  This provides a valuable USP that gives consumers additional reassurance about the provenance of their purchases.

Ink jet technology also offers specialist suppliers the perfect opportunity to adopt a printing solution that will deliver the type of quality codes demanded by major retailers and therefore support a company’s growth and expansion.

The Brand Custodian

In crowded markets, packaging can play a key role in influencing purchasing decisions. Investing in quality in every area of a pack, including the choice of the appropriate variable printing solution, is a vital step in protecting your hard-won brand reputation.