In France as in the rest of Europe, the poultry market is currently highly competitive and profitability is limited. To ensure and maintain a leading position, Gastronome decided to focus on strong brands and develop high value-added products, such as breaded or cooked poultry cuts, as well as ground poultry burgers.
Such products have revitalised the poultry market, though the sector remain crowded. In order to boost sales and make products as appealing as possible, the company decided to invest in modern packaging from Cryovac that would enhance consumer appeal and establish reliable shelf-life.
"If we want to maintain our leadership and if Europe wants to counter the poultry products coming in from the rest of the world, we must multiply our innovations and turn the poultry cases into modern self-service retail shelves," said Lebert. "Product innovation also means packaging innovation, and Darfresh Double Deck fits perfecty into this strategy."
Following a series of meetings and brainstorming sessions, Cryovac developed and suggested the Darfresh Double Deck microwaveable concept, a modern and novel packaging adapted to the needs of consumers and large retail. The Darfresh vacuum packaging ensures long shelf-life, eliminates drips and allows vertical presentation on the retail shelves.
Prolonged shelf-life helps secure product quality for the consumer and provides flexibility to the processor and also helps avoid out-of-stocks at the point of sale.
Cryovac claims that its Darfresh Double Deck innovation is revolutionary. The concept combines the benefits of Darfresh vacuum packaging - namely a skin film ensuring maximised product protection while eliminating drip - with a printed lidding film, with or without window, for product communication.
Thanks to easy opening features, both films can be opened in one single gesture. Such packaging offers the combined benefits of protection, transparency and communication.
"A packaging process able to revolutionise the retail shelves is what the poultry segment needs for the future," said Gastronome marketing director Pascal Lebert.
"This is why the company adopted the Darfresh packaging to pack two product lines under the flagship brand Douce France: poultry cut-ups (breasts, legs, fillets, stuffed wraps and diced poultry), replacing trays and traditional stretch film, as well as the brand-new poultry burgers. For this healthy and tasty but fragile product, vacuum skin packaging is ideal for efficient shelf management because it guarantees long shelf-life."
Gastronome plans to progressively replace the stretch overwrap with Darfresh Double Deck for all poultry cuts. This new offer is 10 per cent more expensive than the stretch alternative, but is slowly and regularly gaining market share.
Thanks to the microwaveability of Darfresh, Gastronome also plans to develop its line of fresh poultry cuts, introducing marinated products to be cooked in the microwave; perfectly in line with new consumer trends. The inexorable rise in pre-packaged easy-to-cook meals remains one of the fastest growing food trends in Europe.
Datamonitor statistics show that more than one-third of European consumers live alone and are spending €140 billion a year on food, drinks and personal care products. Single people spend 50 per cent more per person on consumer-packaged goods than a two adult household. Such trends underline why microwaveable packaging is such an important sector of the food industry.
Gastronome is the second largest poultry processor in France, with close to 4,200 employees and 14 production sites. The group, which integrates all activities of the poultry business from egg hatching to added-value consumer products, achieved a turnover of €760 million in 2004.