Palevsky’s experience involves a variety of packaging studies for Freedonia, an international research firm based in Cleveland. She listed the following as key food packaging trends: Packs for preseasoned meat and poultry, or for making fajitas, exemplify packaged food that’s easy to prepare. Portability is best represented by packaged goods that fit a cupholder, or that can be microwaved. Fresh produce is an area where there’s a need for advanced films. A head of lettuce packed in a standard film is a commodity item. Precut salads now use specialty films that can keep the product from browning for a longer time. Self-heating cans, like Wolfgang Puck’s latte, are another product with a focus on convenience (see picture). The can is activated by pushing a plastic button on its bottom. Water flows into a sealed inner cone, which is filled mostly with calcium oxide. A chemical reaction heats the coffee in about the time it might take to order, pay for, and receive a latte at a restaurant. Soup and baby food may also be appropriate for a self-heating can. Canmakers are trying to differentiate with resealable features, and shaped cans for products like soups. There have been improvements with bottles that are more rectangular or square to fit better in refrigerator doors. You’re still going to see more products going from rigid to flexible because people want to use a pouch because it’s a more compact package. But you do see some shift over to rigid from flexible in salty snacks. There have been more aseptic applications in the last few years. These probably take [market share] from rigid and flexible packs in that they don’t need refrigeration [prior to opening]. They also have reclosable tops for convenience. Retort packages, such as those for tuna and seafood packs, are becoming more accepted in the market.
For information on Freedonia Group studies available for purchase, contact Corinne Gangloff at 440/684-9600, or visit Freedonia Group.