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To entice consumers to the freezer section, manufacturers have upgraded and in some cases overhauled packaging, in an effort to attract attention and ensure quality.
Beyond graphics and other visual improvements, package sizes reflect the needs and changing usage among frozen-meal customers. On the single-serve side, examples include frozen macaroni-and-cheese cups from Stouffer’s, a brand of Solon, Ohio-based Nestle USA, while on the large side, a new line of family-size meals from Concord, N.H.-based Blake’s All Natural Foods has debuted.
Packaging technology is fueling differentiation in frozen meals, too. Frozen Foodies, a Chicago-based company that offers frozen meals from local restaurants, uses packaging technology that includes flash-freezing and vacuum packaging. Suppliers are working on packaging concepts for high-quality frozen meals, such as Charlotte, N.C.-based Sealed Air’s Cyrovac Simple Steps format enabling steam-based cooking.
Meal formats are changing as well — in some cases, a package-within-a-package and the growth of more hand-held meals. “I think we’re seeing innovation in packaging, and how it can deliver on the quality of finished meals,” says Michael Gunn, director of culinary, research and development for The Schwan Food Co., based in Marshall, Minn., pointing to unique “carriers” like wraps with Asian fillings.