UK market leading the way in convenience packaging

Related tags Europe Food industry

Packaging provider Superfos has gained hygiene standard approval
from the Institute of Packaging and the British Retail Consortium.
With the UK public being the leading per capita consumers of
convenience foods of Europe, the move is likely to fuel further
growth for the company, whilst the hygiene standard looks set to
form a precedent for European consumers in this growing sector.

In many European countries, the selection of convenience food at supermarkets is still very limited, even though an increasing part of Europeans live alone. According to Denmark-based Superfos​, UK consumers and the UK food industry set the trend in every way, whereas many European consumers still think of convenience as low-quality, unhealthy food.

"Convenience food products are very popular in Great Britain, but in other European countries, consumers are more conservative and must be convinced that convenience food can be both nutritious and of good quality,"​ said Superfos sales and market director, Martin Malmros. "We experience that packaging is of crucial importance for producers to gain acceptance for their convenience food products in the rest of Europe, and we use our experience from the UK market to develop new packaging for the European convenience food market."

BRC/IOP vital to convenience foods

The convenience food market in the UK benefits from the high demands placed on hygiene in food packaging by UK retailers and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Together with the Institute of Packaging (IoP), they have developed a hygiene standard (BRC/IoP) which ensures these high levels of hygiene are maintained. This is not exclusive to UK producers and is now becoming the most frequently used standard in packaging for most European markets. Consequently, Superfos has gained accreditation to the standard at its 2 factories in UK, Tamworth and Runcorn, and also Randers in Denmark.

"In our opinion, the UK is very innovative in the food area, and the BRC/IoP standard is yet another example of the UK's leading role. Therefore, our presence in the UK is very important to us,"​ said Terry Evans, Superfos spokesman.

Packaging crucial for quality

An example of how packaging plays an important role in conveying quality level and freshness is fresh food manufacturer, Pasta Reale. The UK based group is a market leader in high quality fresh food manufacture and is progressively expanding its range of fresh pasta, pasta sauces, meal solution sauces, soups, gravies and stocks. Product safety and quality are core values of Pasta Reale products and Superfos is a principal provider of packaging for the liquid product range.

Pasta Reale group operations director Barry Denton emphasised the increasing importance that packaging now plays for his products: "The packaging is an essential part of the product, needing to be functional in terms of product integrity and safety, visually sharp for point of sale display, and consumer friendly in the home. It is crucial that our packs convey freshness and maintain a high standard of hygiene throughout all stages from manufacture to the end user. Seal quality and effective tamper evidence which clearly shows that the product has not been opened before purchase is important, as is ease of opening by the consumer for microwave or other heating.

"In summary product safety, ease of use, strength, shape and decoration are all key factors to the integrity of our finished products," Denton said.

Apart from the BRC/IoP standard, Superfos' production facilities in Denmark have been approved by dominant players in the food and retail industries such as, UNIQ, Nestlé, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's.

With the increasing use of food packaging to meet with rising demands for convenience foods across Europe, hygiene standards accreditation looks set to play an increasingly important role for the industry. With the UK setting the pace for the industry, future development of packaging standards will inevitably follow suit in Europe, with increasing competition leading to higher standards of regulation.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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