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Smoker-shaped tray markets Tony Roma-brand meats

Innovative new packaging provides shelf appeal and eases preparation for time-crunched consumers.

Rupari's innovative new packaging for Tony Roma's provides shelf appeal and eases preparation for time-crunched consumers.
Rupari's innovative new packaging for Tony Roma's provides shelf appeal and eases preparation for time-crunched consumers.

Summer is on its way, and for many that means backyard barbecues and the long-awaited grilling season. Yet there’s no need to wait, especially now that Rupari Food Services, Inc. has introduced a new smoker-shaped CPET pack for 1-lb pulled pork and 1-lbpulled chicken, and a larger, longer tray, made of aluminum, for ribs. The two CPET trays are used to heat Tony Roma’s famous BBQ meats, in either a conventional or microwave oven. The aluminum tray is designed to be heated in a conventional oven or directly on the grill. All products are sold refrigerated, not frozen.

South Holland, IL-based Rupari introduced the new packaging in March 2016. The previous packaging required consumers to transfer the meat to an oven- or microwave-safe dish prior to heating, the new CPET packs can be placed directly into the oven or microwave for heating. Rupari is a distributor for Tony Roma’s, which, is a registered trademark of Roma Dining, LP, Dallas.

The new packaging delivers retail punch, but its primary function is to help consumers. “Through a series of internal and external sessions examining how consumers interact with packaging, and in working side by side with our design firm, the DuPuis Group, we identified solutions to remove steps from dinner prep and work with consumer-preferred appliances,” says Kristin Kroepfl, Rupari’s VP of Marketing.

“This led us to an oven- and grill-ready pan as the ideal solution for ribs, and a microwave and oven-ready smoker CPET tray for pulled pork. The integrated approach DuPuis took to structure and design resulted in novel structures that not only fit the consumer need, but also build our brand identity and fit well within our manufacturing environment,” she adds.

Ribs are directly deposited into a proprietary aluminum pan (developed in conjunction with key partners), and the pulled pork is packed into the CPET tray. Both are skin-packed with a high-barrier film that includes a tab and easy-open function. These packages are then “labeled” with a paperboard sleeve that includes graphics, nutrition facts, and prep instructions. The 18-pt sleeve is sheet-fed printed in four colors by Dreamworks Graphic Communications LLC.

Rupari processes and packages all of its products at its headquarters facility. Meats are hand-selected and trimmed, with a brine solution used to lock in moisture. Product is then vacuum-tumbled in seasonings, placed on racks and transferred to the company's smokehouse. Afterwards, meat is transferred to a new packaging line where it receives sauce, is skin-packed, sleeved and packaged into outer cases. The company preferred not to reveal packaging line machinery or material details.

All of the Tony Roma’s BBQ products are sold nationally in grocery, mass, and club channels, and are merchandised in refrigerated meat and meal cases. “We guarantee an average of 80 days of shelf life across our line, which consists of a wide range of sizes, authentic regional sauce profiles, and cuts of ribs, in addition to a broad line of sauced BBQ meats,” Kroepfl says. Retail prices range from $6.20/lb to $6.70/lb.

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