Linden Foods, the award-winning market leader in the Northern Irish fresh meat processing industry, has proved the potential of packaging to bring some relief to the food waste epidemic.

Consumers throw away 30% of the food they purchase, and two thirds of that waste is unavoidable. Linden Foods, as part of their sustainability programme ‘GREENTRACK’, looked to Sealed Air’s Cryovac® Darfresh® brand to implement a result-driven solution to package its fresh red meat for a leading UK retailer.  Since introducing Darfresh® skin packs in 2007 with a focus on the Southern Irish market, Linden Foods has enjoyed growth year-on-year, and spread its net to cover a prestigious portfolio of large retailers in the United Kingdom.

In 2012 the company purchased a new Darfresh® machine, preempting continuing growth. The extension of shelf life from six to ten days, a reduction in the quantity of packaging material, retention of the meat’s colour and excellent line efficiency show that the chosen solution is winning several battles.

Two-pronged attack on waste reduction

Darfresh® has enabled Linden Foods and its customers to make a positive contribution to the sustainability equation for fresh red meat in two key ways. Firstly, the optically attractive, robust skin is a key element in facilitating a 30% to 50% reduction in overall pack volume compared to that of alternative solutions. That means less material to dispose of, as well as optimised logistic efficiency during transportation and display. These are all factors that can contribute to carbon footprint savings of 20% in the complete system. The other major sustainability plus is the ability of Darfresh® to almost double the length of shelf life for red meat, simultaneously enabling in-pack maturation. Contents stay fresh and appealingly red for up to ten days, potentially spanning two weekends – a major benefit for retailers.

Feeding the “fine dining at home” trend

The impressive shelf life of meat packaged in Darfresh® skin is a proven recipe for significantly enhancing efficiency. Linden Foods found the flexibility this affords is vital when satisfying retailer demand, specifically the trend of eating restaurant-quality food at home and accompanying special promotions. The chosen packaging innovation from Sealed Air’s Cryovac® brand dually facilitates the delivery and storage of larger stock to meet demand peaks, integrating an important buffer stock. Linden Foods’ efficiency also benefits from an increase from 6-7 to 10.4 cycles per minute attained by the Darfresh® production line. Consumers are sold on the appealing look of the product (including product options incorporating an accompanying sauce), convenient portioning and opening, as well as the high food safety standards due to resistance to leakage and cross contamination.