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Hormel’s flat-bottomed meat pouch is ‘oven-ready’ for anything

Hormel Foods, known for its Dinty Moore(R) canned stews, chili and Spam luncheon meat, has adopted a generously sized package for refrigerated fresh meats and roasts. Called the Showpack(R) standup pouch from Printpack (www.printpack.com), the handy package with a "no-goof" inner oven bag is being used for five different stockkeeping units. One of them is being sold at Super Target stores under Target's new Sutton & Dodge brand for Beef Prime Rib Roast. Hormel offers the other four, which include boneless, fresh pork-rib end roast, pork center-cut roast, rack of pork and beef prime rib roast, under its Oven Ready name. The Sutton & Dodge prime rib was launched in December 2006. Spotted in the Chicago-area Super Target stores, the top-quality, fully-cooked and seasoned, boneless roasts were priced by the pound. The roast packages PD spotted ran about $12.99/lb.

While the package, with its proprietary cook-in bag inside, is designed to keep the meat tender and juicy during conventional oven heating and allows consumers to transport it and handily place it into a roasting pan and into the oven without handling the meat, the main distinction between this pouch and others is its flat-bottomed format, which Printpack says is unique.

"We have the only machine of its kind in the U.S. that can produce this bag style," says Printpack's Michele Isban, graphics and advertising manager. Hormel reports that the product launch in the new package is a first for the meat category, and sales so far are strong.

"We have seen excellent sales on this product; they have exceeded expectations," confirms Hormel product manager Chad Sendzik.

Another benefit of the Showpack bag is that registered printing can be applied to all five bag panels, which provides a lot of billboard space for plenty of graphics, heating instructions, nutritional information and product benefits, Printpack says.

We're very pleased with the package. We will be using it with a line of fresh-meat products.

It describes the bag construction as an adhesive lamination that's reverse-flexo-printed in eight colors on a barrier-coated polyethylene terephthalate film layer that's laminated to a linear low-density polyethylene sealant blend. The package is made with side gussets and a flat bottom to provide superior, maximum merchandising flexibility on retail shelves. Registered printing on the three main bag panels showcases Hormel's and Target's mouth-watering graphics that include photo vignettes of the particular cut of meat inside. The Oven Ready line also includes a "No Fuss! No Muss Fool-Proof" icon and a photo of the meat or roast cooking in the oven.

Containing roasts with a weight that can vary a bit per package, the easy-open pouch has a peelable film inserted as a handle-reinforcement strip. Sold in the refrigerated meat case, the cuts of meat weigh anywhere from 3 to 4 lb and are fairly large. The built-in, two-hole, reinforced handle is strong but comfortable. Created in-line on proprietary pouchmaking equipment, the punched-out handle aims to be consumer-friendly, and the peelable film technology enables the heat-sealed pouch to open easily.

Says Printpack's marketing manager, Paul Pritchett, "Scissors are not needed to open the bag. The side-gusseted, true-flat-bottom bag is a breakthrough standup pouch format. One of its unique features is the easy-peel film inserted in-line on the bag machine that doubles as an easy-open solution for consumers and acts to reinforce the package handle."

Hormel says it also chose the package structure for its consumer-convenience attributes. The company says it considered packing the products in a tray-pack configuration, but product size was an issue. "The flexible package needed to fit various-sized items," Sendzik notes.

"The packaging development was accelerated to meet [Hormel's] marketing objectives," adds Pritchett. "The bag provides a unique shape that differentiates the products at retail. With wide seals and a stable base, combined with the flat-bottom billboard for high-impact graphics, the Showpack creates merchandising flexibility for retailers. It displays the graphics standing up or lying flat."

The shelf life on the Sutton & Dodge line is 100 days due to high-presssure processing technology, or HPP, which Sendzik describes as a process that exerts a high degree of water pressure on the product. "The technology is an all-natural process approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and doesn't compromise the meat's great taste, texture, appearance or nutritional value," he says.

For both brands, the dramatic graphics, including a highly recognizable logo, have an eye-catching billboard effect on front and back panels. The Oven Ready brand features large-scale, full-color photography of the various taste-tempting products showcased along with the red-and-green Hormel logo against a white-and-gray-bordered background.

Back panels illustrate preparation directions in a numbered, four-step format. With a cutting-board, woodgrain border element, the Sutton & Dodge line utilizes warm mahogany tones as well as tan and cream colors to present a delectable serving of prime Angus rib roast centered in a photo vignette beneath a black-and-white photo of the two gentleman in butcher uniforms—the brand's namesakes.

The sturdy, glossy standup bags have a distinctive, handsome look that sets the products apart from other fresh meats in the butcher case, which are mostly tray-packed or shrink-wrapped.

While it won't reveal other packaging specifics or equipment information, Printpack does indicate that it sends the open-topped bags to a Hormel facility, which nitrogen-flushes the secondary package during the filling process and seals the bags. Hormel says it needed no new packaging equipment to accommodate the new product lines and packaging.

Sendzik points out that the package was in development for six months. "We're very pleased with the package," he adds. "We will also be using it with a full line of fresh-meat products."

According to Pritchett, Printpack is working on multiple Showpack applications for future commercialization, and the bags are also gaining popularity in the popcorn market. They're being used in a matte-film format by Dale and Thomas (see www.packagingdigest.com/info/FPAsilver07). "We have a large-format bagmaking capability, so we view Showpack as a fit for bulk and granular products like petfood, lawn and garden products, charcoal and cat litter," Pritchett points out. "On the food side, we have seen interest for the flexible package in frozen foods, confections and snacks and as a multipack for any number of products in the mass-merchant and clubstore environments."

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