With More Consumers Demanding Grocery Delivery Straight to Their Homes, Markets and Food Producers are Finding Unique Ways to Package Perishables
According to a 2012 white paper The Online Grocery Opportunity by The Hartman Group, the online grocery market potential is estimated to be a $500 billion to $1 trillion. Companies who already have a strong digital presence associated with food will have the competitive advantage in capturing grocery delivery market share. Consumers are already reading about food online, looking for meal inspiration, recipes and deals, and sharing food ideas with each other. A company’s success in translating this existing digital engagement to online grocery ordering and fulfillment will depend on their ability to continue to “capture consumer involvement with food culture outside of stores.”
Grocery Delivery on the Rise
Thanks to improved packaging and logistics, grocery delivery is on the rise. Plenty of companies realize the market potential in offering speedy, on-demand delivery of groceries and other perishables right to a customer’s doorstep. Which raises the question, what’s the best type of packaging for perishable food and produce delivery?
Companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated use a combination of products to keep their food deliveries fresh. Most of these ready-to-cook meals come neatly packaged in a recyclable corrugated cardboard box with thermal liners and gel coolant packs to ensure proper temperatures until received by the customer. In addition, the meats are typically vacuum sealed in poly bags to protect from cross contamination with other products. Amazon Fresh delivers groceries in tote bags and insulated coolers that can be reused for future orders. According to Amazon’s website, this type of reusable packaging is designed to maintain the appropriate temperature for up to 2 hours after the end of the delivery window while compartmentalizing pantry, refrigerated and frozen items.
Grocery Delivery Implications and Cold Chain Packaging
The rise of grocery delivery will likely result in significant growth of the cold chain packaging industry. In order to preserve freshness, innovative use of thermal packaging like reusable insulated coolers, gel coolant cold packs, dry ice and thermal box liners will be necessary. The best type of packaging to use will depend on the nature of the products and temperature requirements for each, as well as the length of time necessary to maintain the correct temperature.
In order to select the right packaging, grocery retailers will need to first examine the technical requirements of each product – this is not a one size fits all decision. Frozen foods, refrigerated produce, meltable products and pantry items are unique in their packaging requirements. How do you segment these products to keep each component at the right temperature if they are all going to the same place and keep shipping costs down while doing so? How does packaging these items together impact the overall distribution process? Other considerations come into play as well, like taking a sustainable approach with reusable containers that can be left with the customer until the next delivery – similar to the milk bottles of yesteryears.
Cold Chain Packaging Technical Expertise
All of these nuances related to cold chain packaging and grocery delivery require a certain level of expertise to determine the best packaging fit. Therefore, it’s important to select a packaging supplier that has specific experience with cold chain packaging. Through our ISTA / TAPPI certified labs, we empirically test every shipping scenario for each type of product to determine the best and most economical thermal packaging products to support unique supply chains like grocery delivery. Having the ability to simulate parcel home delivery shipments based on season and ambient temperature while monitoring the interior temperature and duration is a requirement. Every detail down to how much air space may be available in the package, the amount of coolant, type of coolant and method of packing becomes a key variable. When dealing with food safety it’s critical to understand the requirements for a successful customer experience – to test, modify and optimize to achieve the desired result.
About Pratt Plus
PrattPlus.com offers same day shipping on over 50,000 items including a large assortment of corrugated boxes and industrial packaging supplies. As a division of Pratt Industries, the 5th Largest Corrugated Packaging Company in the USA and the world’s largest, privately-held 100% recycled paper and packaging company, Pratt Plus not only sells the world’s best boxes, but also fills them with the world’s best products.
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