Perishables category proves its staying power
Where’s the beef (packaging)?
Grass only getting greener for sustainable packaging

Perishables category proves its staying power

Deli, produce sales experience strongest growth as consumers dine out less during economic hardship.

According to arecent Nielsen report, total store sales-including the pharmacy, perishables, food and beverage, health and beauty care, and general merchandise departments-are expanding. Of all these diverse retail sectors, research shows the perishables department is experiencing the fastest growth as consumers return to dinner tables back home to cut back during the economic downturn.

Reported household deli spending for the year ending September 2009 tallied $200, representing a 5% increase from last year. Bakery accounted for average annual household sales of $174 per year, an increase of 3% over last year. Fresh meat and seafood racked up annual household sales of $437 per year, growing 4% since last year. Finally, produce spending amounted to $279 per household, growing 3% over last year’s total.

The Nielsen research explains that shoppers are trading down, up and sideways for less expensive non-red-meat and seafood protein options such as turkey, chicken and pork, drawing attention-and dollars-away from beef department sales. The data shows this trade down is occurring in both fresh and fully cooked product categories, suggesting retailers-and by extension, packaging manufacturers-might consider diversifying by offering add-ons such as marinades, sauces and seasonings, a category that's currently posting double digit-increases on both a dollar and unit basis.

A few aisles over in produce, consumers appear to be sticking with core vegetables as tomatoes, potatoes and corn and traditional fruits like berries, cherries and grapes are among the few examples of categories seeing dollar and unit growth.

Virtually all major departments in and around the deli counter are posting strong growth, says Nielsen data. Deli cold cuts and cheese are up 7% and prepared foods have increased nearly 5% since last year. More popular prepared deli items include turkey entrees, pot pies, chicken salad and cheese, the last of which includes pre-sliced cheese, a category that is currently seeing double-digit unit and dollar sales jumps.

Where’s the beef (packaging)?

U.S. demand for meat, poultry and seafood packaging to increase 3.5% yearly through 2013.

Demand for meat, poultry and seafood packaging is expected to increase 3.5% annually to $9.2 billion in 2013, says a new report fromthe Freedonia Group. During this time, flexible packaging demand will trump that of rigid packaging, growing 4.4% annually to $4 billion by 2013.

The report indicates that increased meat, poultry and seafood production and the continuing shift to case-ready packaging as a means of reducing in-store labor costs will drive the demand for packaging. Changing packaging practices, like the increasing prevalence of meat and poultry items in smaller, more convenient sizes and the expanding range of products that are further processed and easy for consumers to prepare, will also contribute to increased demand.

With regard to flexible packaging, growth will be driven by the increasing prevalence of high barrier film demand and the rising percentage of meat in case-ready packaging. Likewise, pouches will continue to replace traditional can applications, and make new headway in frozen meat, poultry and seafood applications due to pouches’ high visual appeal and shelf appearance.

Grass only getting greener for sustainable packaging

Virtually all companies have, or are organizing, some form of sustainable packaging initiatve, survey finds.

A survey developed byTompkins Associateshas found that more than 65% of top retail- and manufacturing-related firms have a sustainable packaging policy in place, while 28% are currently working toward such a goal. The report also found that for 79% of companies, packaging sustainability has an influence on their strategic direction with regard to energy and material costs; simultaneously, 76% of respondents see an impact on environmental and economic concerns.

Interestingly, executives at responding companies see less of an impact in increasing competitiveness and access to new markets, suggesting that sustainable packaging may be more about definitive savings rather than perceived or hard-to-measure benefits.

In order to maximize packaging sustainability initiatives, respondents indicated there’s room for several improvements. Those suggestions include a better collection and recovery process, increased end-user awareness, a better-designed supply chain and a life-cycle analysis process that identifies the cost effectiveness of sustainability initiatives.

Chemical Market Associates Inc.
DeWitt & Co. Inc.
Plastics News