UPDATE: 2023 Meat & Protein Tray Packaging Trends

2023 Meat & Protein Tray Packaging Design Trends (update)

As we remarked in Meat & Protein Tray Packaging Design Trends for 2022, design trends for meat and protein trays continue to follow social and environmental changes. One of the most important trends happening in the industry is the acceleration of state and local bans on EPS foam trays. Many food producers are now forced to consider alternatives to EPS foam trays and absorbent pads, which have long been a staple in meat and protein packaging. In this article, we’ll take a look at what EPS bans mean to food packaging, and what Easypak is doing to help food processors deliver a great product while complying with these bans.

Current State of Meat and Produce Packaging

Over the last twenty years, there has been a global movement towards the phase-out of polystyrene foam as a single use plastic. Full or partial bans of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, like many other single use plastics, have been enacted nationwide in many countries around the world.

In the United  States, eight U.S. states have passed legislation to ban polystyrene foam.  Currently, food containers using EPS are banned in Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington DC. Two other states have passed legislation for upcoming bans: Colorado (2024) and Virginia (2028). There are also a number of cities and counties throughout the US that have enacted bans.

The Eastern seaboard is leading the charge towards more environmentally responsible meat tray materials.  However, more and more states are enacting legislation to ban EPS foam and, no matter which side of the issue your opinion falls on, food producers, grocery stores, and meat processing companies are now looking for the best replacement for foam trays.

What This Means to Food Processors

As bans on EPS foam continue to grow, distributors and processors have begun to adapt packaging to comply with these bans.  For meat and protein trays, this means seeking an alternative to the costly foam trays and absorbent pads that have been used for years in meat tray applications.

One alternative that is growing in popularity is Easypak’s patented honeycomb moisture-trapping feature.  This cutting-edge design feature combines post-consumer recycled PET (PCR-PET) with a patented tray bottom, which reduces the need for absorbent pads by creating “pockets” for moisture to settle in. In addition to keeping the product fresh, this unique feature also locks in moisture and enhances the visual display of fresh-packaged foods.  While the honeycomb tray is proven to be effective as a solution for meat and protein packaging, it works well for produce and fresh-cut applications, too.

The Solution: Easypak’s Honeycomb Trays

Easypak already delivers the broadest plastic meat and produce tray offerings in the business. To enhance this offering, Easypak’s honeycomb technology is now available in a wide variety of sizes across our entire packaging lineup – from the small,  5” square MT1D to the large 14” MT25S – and in both shallow and deep configurations.  Our meat and produce trays are lightweight, rigid and strong – and are a perfect alternative to EPS foam trays and absorbent pads. Readily available in clear and black, Easypak meat and protein trays are available in custom colors, shapes, and sizes via special order.

Designed for Food Processors & Packers

Honeycomb tray packaging plastic thermoformed protein tray with red meat and black on whiteEasypak’s unique honeycomb base is engineered to ensure predictable performance for food processing operations. The trays feature an enhanced corner design, which allows for the trays to be stretch wrapped on a high-speed production line or by hand without warping or puncturing the film. The honeycomb tray design is also suitable for complex, multi-layer-material Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), a process which maintains food’s appearance, texture, and nutrition without relying on chemical additives or food stabilizers. MAP is ideal for delicate and fresh products, especially meats, poultry, seafood and other proteins.

The Future of Protein Packaging is Easypak

Are you a food processor or packer looking for a better alternative to EPS foam trays and absorbent pads? Look no further; Easypak’s complete line of honeycomb and regular trays for meats and proteins are designed to meet the needs of modern large-scale food processors and packers.  As a leader in the food packaging industry, we understand that every aspect of your packaging matters – and have reimagined our meat and protein trays to achieve your objectives for convenient at-scale production, safe transportation, extended shelf-life, and enhance display qualities.

Get the conversation started today – online or with one of our knowledgeable product experts.

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