The perception of it being a largely vegetarian country notwithstanding, meat production in India is estimated to be around 6.3 million tonnes, which makes it the fifth largest producer of meat in the world. As of 2016, India exported US$ 5 billion of meat per year. By 2022, the Indian meat market is estimated to touch US$ 65 billion as compared to US$ 31 billion in 2018 which indicates a CAGR of 20%.
According to Central Pollution Study board, India produces 26,000 tonnes of plastic every day. Data provided by FICCI confirms that the plastic packaging industry in India is worth US$ 32 billion.
Consumers are demanding sustainability
As of today, more than 50% of consumers in the US take recyclability, sustainability and biodegradability of packaging into account while purchasing products. In fact according to a study done by Dataessential, 43% of consumers believe that it is important for retail packaging to be recyclable and reusable.
Technology is making it possible
For instance, biopolymer lined clamshell containers made of bagasse can be used by cafes or restaurants to package food on the move. Due to the biopolymer coating, the containers won’t leak when transporting hot or cold food items but will biodegrade over a period of time.
Lowers carbon footprint
Increase in the usage of sustainable packaging reduces carbon emissions drastically. Sustainable packaging products are light, use renewable fibres and optimized manufacturing processes. This enables them to substantially reduce their carbon footprint from cradle to gate.
Requires less energy and cost
Trays which are created using sustainable methods require lower levels of heat for sealing which reduces energy consumption of the manufacturer by 15%. Alternative packaging materials might be lighter and therefore could result in cost reduction over the long run for manufacturers. Lightweight materials would also cost less to be manufactured.
Improves preservation of meat
Highest preservation standards have to be met while packaging meat as exposure to oxygen may spoil it. Certain sustainable packaging methods come with oxygen barrier quality. The oxygen barrier improves the shelf life of meat and therefore reduces wastage
Meat remains fresh
Sustainable packaging methods make it possible for meat to remain fresh and retain its flavour over a longer period of time. It doesn’t let external factors such as temperature or hygiene effect the meat.
Transparent packaging helps customers to see the product directly
Traditional packaging methods end up covering the meat up completely. Therefore the consumer wouldn’t know whether the meat is gone bad unless the packaging is removed. Sustainable packaging methods also place huge importance on keeping the packaging transparent so that consumers can literally see and then pick the meat product which they wish to buy.
Reduces wastage and increases profits
Sustainable packaging methods can also help reduce wastage of produce. Retailers often experience 2% to 4% shrinkage from the meat packet. Due to this shrinkage they are either forced to throw the meat or reduce the price. It is obvious that throwing the meat away causes significant wastage.
Sustainable cases can use vacuum packaging and reduce shrinkage. These cases also end up looking attractive to consumers. Reduction in wastage and higher number of purchases by consumers improves profit margins for retailers.
Better for the planet
After sustainable packaging items are disposed they can be either recycled or will under biodegradation at acceptable levels. Items manufactured from plant sources can even be used as compost for soil.
Therefore it is time for the meat industry in India to invest in packaging.
By: Lisa Suwal CEO – Prasuma- pioneers of fresh deli meats in India