With a growing population, the food supply has become one of the greatest challenges of our time. Food production is increasing, but food waste is also growing at the same rate. In many market segments, the number of items that never even reach the end consumer is significant, being thrown out before consumption and causing a negative impact on the entire food processing chain.

We know that food waste is a global issue, but many may not be aware of is the staggering reality of the volume of food that is wasted at the retail level.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 2.7 billion pounds of meat, poultry, and fish valued at $8.8 billion is thrown out by retailers annually in the U.S. alone. Retailers believe that by eliminating food waste caused by spoilage, age dating, package damage and markdowns, they can capture a staggering 10 percent of previously lost revenue, also known as retail shrink. That’s good for retailers, consumers, and society as a whole.

Nearly 70 percent of retail decision-makers consider food waste reduction to hold greater value potential among overall store operations than labor and energy cost control or theft prevention.

In a recent study of U.S. retailers conducted by Progressive Grocer and commissioned by Sealed Air, 72.5 percent of meat and seafood loss was due to food spoilage, and another 12.7 percent was due to package damage.

Cryovac® Darfresh® On Tray can help to minimize these losses by offering a secure, leak-proof pack that more than doubles the shelf life of packaged meat, for example, when compared with other case-ready packaging, such as modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). In the home, Darfresh on Tray meat packaging is freezer-ready, which can further extend the shelf life of protein without risk of freezer burn or the need to re-package, which in turn reduces consumer food waste.

This solution is an important innovation for the food packaging industry in general and the meat packaging industry in particular:

•    Supports sustainability with zero scrap, a recyclable tray and reduced distribution costs (equaling carbon footprint savings of 20% across the entire system)

•    Virtually eliminates scrap material with optimal film utilization, lowering total meat packaging cost (facilitates 25–50% reduction in overall pack volume compared to alternative solutions)

•    More than doubles the shelf-life of fresh red meat and poultry when compared to the standard MAP process

At Sealed Air, our team’s focus remains on every aspect of the use of our solutions, not just the product itself.

It extends to each facet of how our products will be used, including space required for transport, and storage and display. In addition to reduced food waste in retail and at home, Darfresh On Tray optimizes space utilization with its sleek vacuum pack, which generates cube efficiency, and reduces logistics costs and improves labor productivity.

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Sean Brady is the case ready and ready meals market development manager for Sealed Air / North America.