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Absorbent grease pad soaks up the benefits

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Boyer's Food Markets has taken that phrase to heart by making a packaging improvement to its plastic, dome-shaped rotisserie chicken containers that helps prevent grease from leaking out, which could put customers in a "fowl" mood. Founded in 1949 in Orwigsburg, PA, Boyer's operates 17 locations throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, all of which emphasize its dedication to giving customers extraordinary service. Because its supermarkets strive to please customers instead of seeing them take flight, Boyer's added Hot-Locâ„¢ absorbent pads from the Cryovac Div. of Sealed Air Corp. (www.sealedair.com) inside of the chicken trays.

Customer safety and product protection are paramount, says John Boyer, president of real estate and vp of operations for Boyer's Food Markets. He also heads the company's corporate safety committee. "Awareness of safety is extremely important," he says. "Preventing something from needing to be cleaned is better than doing something about it after the fact."

The domed, two-piece polyethylene terephthalate containers are highly protective, but the chicken inside had been vulnerable to shifting around in shopping carts and in grocery bags, which could cause any hot grease inside to leak out, should the container tip. Developed in response to retailer requests, the Hot-Loc pads absorb excess grease, fat and juices from hot, pre-cooked foods, such as rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, roasts, loins or ribs, resulting in cleaner packages, case displays, floors and front-end checkout stations. Enclosed in PE film, the pads are constructed with a polymer skin capable of withstanding temperatures up to 180 deg F under store deli heating lamps for a duration of 12 hours. The pads "drink in" liquids through patented, one-way "valves" located on their bottom layer. These hundreds of tiny valves absorb the juices only through the bottom of the pad, which helps keep the meat from drying out. Microwave-safe, the pad locks in moisture and liquids during reheating and has what Cryovac describes as an enclosed fluff pulp matrix originally developed for Cryovac Dri-Loc pads. Available in clear and black and in a variety of sizes and absorbencies, the pad can be used in all sorts of heated retail display cases. Complying with applicable U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, the pad can be used in rigid or flexible containers.

Mike Tomek, sales representative for Sealed Air's Cryovac Food Packaging Division, says Cryovac shipped Boyer's a case of the pads to trial at one store location for a month. After monitoring the product, the company decided to adopt Hot-Loc across all 17 of Boyer's Food Markets locations. The pads are added to the chicken packages in the store deli department.

Since adding the Hot-Loc pads, Boyer's says it has had no rotisserie chicken-related incidents. The pad film enclosure is strong and durable and the sealed edges prevent juices and grease from leaking out.

According to John Boyer, the results exceeded all expectations. Deli managers are receptive to the pads, and store customers have provided positive feedback.

John Boyer says he doesn't just work for Boyer's Food Markets; he's also a customer. "As an end user, I see the results of the pads from the other side," he states. "There's no pool of grease at the bottom of the container when I get home, yet grease removal doesn't take away from the flavor or moisture of the meat."

Boyer's Food Markets originally used clear pads, and then switched to black pads in May of 2005. "Black is invisible to the customer and makes a much nicer presentation," says John Boyer. For Boyer's, the absorbent pad is a valuable asset. "It adds a minimal cost to the package, but we think about what one accident could be worth. You cannot put a price tag on customer safety," says John Boyer. Dedicated to providing excellent customer service, the company, through its safety committee, continues to ensure a safe environment for customers.


More information is available:
Cryovac Div., Sealed Air Corp., 800/845-3456. www.sealedair.com.
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