PRE Brands is walking the talk, with a unique package comprising a vacuum pack that flips up from a chipboard backing card to offer 100% transparency of its ethically-sourced beef products. According to the company, Chicago-based PRE Brands was founded in 2013 by Lenny Lebovich “to bring transparency and ethical practices to the beef industry, while maintaining extraordinary taste.”
PRE’s beef products are sourced from Australia and New Zealand, where conditions and practices allow them to grow the best grass year-round. The company’s suppliers are also held to some of the highest quality standards, including 100% grass-fed, 100% pasture-raised, and no added hormones or antibiotics. All PRE’s steaks are hand-trimmed for consistent thickness and weight, and products must meet the company’s specified marbling scale, fat color, pH level, and meat color to be considered PRE.
With such level of detail given to the sourcing and preparation of its products right out of the gate, PRE sought packaging that would reinforce the quality and taste of its steaks as well as deliver on consumer expectations. “PRE is a CPG brand, and we make decisions based on consumer insights,” says Tracy Sinclair, Chief Marketing Officer at PRE Brands. “We put the consumer at the forefront of all we do.”
In February 2015, PRE rolled out its first products in the flip-up package, and in October 2016, it updated its packaging graphics to enhance taste appeal.
The patent-pending flip-up pack, designed by Lebovich, has a number of unique, consumer-friendly features. The meat is vacuum-packed in a co-extruded film structure from Cryovac that provides barrier and abuse-resistance. The vacuum-pack format eliminates the need for preservatives or gas within the package and extends shelf life up to 21 days refrigerated and unopened.
On both bottom corners of the package, PRE has added Easy Peel tabs that allow the consumer to peel apart the film, without the need for cutting or scissors. “Our Easy Peel removes the difficulty of opening EPS trays, allowing for the quickest and cleanest opening possible,” says Sinclair. “Consumers appreciate that they do not have to touch the raw meat.” They also appreciate the fact that the vacuum pack prevents leakage, she adds.
The meat pack is attached to the backing card via a header that is folded over to ensure the film is secure. The vacuum pack is removed from the card by a perforation in the film at the edge of the header. Once the pack is removed, the chipboard can be recycled.
The backing card is made from FSC-certified, 24-pt SBS board, offset-printed in six colors plus a UV gloss varnish. The package is displayed in the refrigerated meat case standing up, so no crushing of the meat occurs. “The shelf trays also help consumers thumb through items easily, much like thumbing through CDs at a record store,” explains Sinclair.
For the redesign of the graphics, PRE worked with brand design firm Ciulla. According to the firm, the original packaging looked sterile and lacked taste appeal. “PRE felt there was an opportunity to communicate their authentic brand story in a more compelling and relevant way,” it adds.
The new graphics display each product with a down-shot perspective. Says Ciulla, “This reality was the perfect staging for our cutting board preparation story. As if peering into your kitchen while dinner is being prepared, the ingredients for the meal are scattered upon a cutting board surface.”
Beyond taste appeal, the header card section of the package delivers strong branding, clear product benefits, and strong flavor segmentation through color coding. “The script font that identifies the meat type feels right at home on the chalkboard of your corner bistro,” says Ciulla.
On the back panel is a recipe that uses the ingredients shown on the front of the pack along with a final, plated photo of the recipe. For example, the ground beef pack uses the image of a cutting board scattered with sliced red onions, garlic cloves, and a mix of kosher salt and black pepper. On the back is a recipe for “The Perfect Cheeseburger,” accompanied by a photograph of the “perfect” burger with fries.
“We wanted to help inspire Millennials to get in the kitchen and cook, by making it as easy as possible,” says Sinclair. “We literally walk you through every step of the way.”
Since being introduced in fall 2016, the product and package have received praise from consumers and retailers alike, says Sinclair: “Consumers love our new packaging because it helps PRE stand out at shelf and also clearly communicates how great it tastes, with the cutting board and ingredients surrounding the beef. Retailers love it as well, as it helps call attention to the category and boosts PRE sales.”