PRE Brands—a Chicago-based start-up specializing in premium, grass-fed beef—knows how important it is for consumers to see a cut of meat before they buy it. With that in mind, the company has created a packaging design that offers shoppers a 360-degree view of PRE products.
The food packaging structure is an easy-open vacuum pack attached to a paperboard backer. Shoppers can flip up the pouch, which is made from freezer-friendly, high-barrier film, to see all sides of the meat inside the package. A perforated tear line at the top of the vacuum pack makes it easy to separate the film package from the backer.
Tracy Sinclair, chief marketing and sales officer at PRE Brands, answers a few questions about the package and PRE’s products.
When did the new package launch?
Sinclair: Our packaging first launched into the marketplace in February 2015. We updated our packaging graphics in October 2016 to increase appetite appeal and inspire our consumers by featuring PRE steaks, ground beef and roast in the middle of a cutting board surrounded by additional ingredients used in the suggested recipe on the back panel. This allows consumers to imagine, at shelf, what PRE will look, feel and taste like when they prepare it at home.
The back panel features a recipe and cooking instructions for the beef. [A nutrition panel is also printed on the back panel.]
What brand attributes are conveyed with the updated package graphics?
Sinclair: The front of our packaging is designed to communicate several aspects of the brand:
• We want to help inspire Millennials to get in the kitchen and cook by making it as easy as possible—we walk you through every step on the back of our package.
• PRE brings the best of what nature has to offer, and the cutting board and seasonings are meant to reinforce this product benefit.
• It doesn’t take much to make a PRE steak or ground beef taste amazing, and having simple ingredients on the front of the package emphasizes this point.
Who designed the package graphics?
Sinclair: PRE Brands worked with the Chicago-based packaging design firm Ciulla. The design evolved from consumer focus groups, so PRE packaging reflects exactly what consumers want.
Who did the structural package design?
Sinclair: Our patent-pending packaging was specifically designed for PRE Brands by our founder and CEO, Lenny Lebovich, to be the first package in the meat industry that allows for 100% transparency. With PRE, consumers can flip the package to see the exact marbling of their steak selection. So they have the perfect taste experience every single time.
Is this a modified-atmosphere package?
Sinclair: No. Our product is vacuum packaged, which removes all the air. No additional gases are added.
How long is the products’ shelf life?
Sinclair: Our current shelf life on unopened packages is 21 days from production. After 21 days, we ask the consumer to use it or freeze it for later use. Our package is freezer-ready. When ready to defrost, we have a perforated tear line that allows our package to be removed from the chipboard backing, so that it can be placed in a water bath or in the fridge for easy thawing.
What type of film do you use in this package structure?
Sinclair: The specific types of plastic are confidential; however, our film is made using a patented coextrusion technology that produces materials with the highest level of barrier and abuse properties. Both our forming and non-forming films have a high oxygen barrier with a built in EZ Open layer and enhanced sealant that provides the highest level of package integrity. We do not use any nitrates or chemicals in our film to extend shelf life artificially.
Please describe the film’s easy-open feature.
Sinclair: On both bottom corners of our package, we have Easy Peel tabs that give our consumer an easy way to peel apart the film and open the package, no cutting or scissors necessary. Our easy-peel feature circumvents the difficulty of opening foam trays, allowing for the quickest and cleanest opening possible. Consumers appreciate that they do not have to touch the raw meat. Our package is also easy to freeze, no repackaging necessary.
This easy-open feature is a specific property of our film that occurs during sealing of our package.
How is the film attached to the backing?
Sinclair: The [film] package is attached to the backing under the header. Then the header is folded over to ensure the film is secure. A little bit of the film is left under the header after the package is removed from the backing via the perforation.
Is the package recyclable?
Sinclair: The paperboard backing is recyclable. The film is not recyclable. To recycle the paperboard backing, the film needs to be removed from under the header.
How is the paperboard component of the package printed? Do you use any special inks or varnishes?
Sinclair: We use a domestically produced, FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] Certified 24-pt SBS (solid bleached sulfate) board that is printed sheet-fed offset (litho). It is a six-color run with a flood-coat UV gloss varnish.
How is the package displayed at retail?
Sinclair: The package is displayed in the refrigerated meat case using a PRE-designed shelf tray to prop the packages up in the case. Our shelf trays help the packages stand up, so no crushing occurs. The shelf trays also help consumers thumb through items easily, much like thumbing through CDs at a record store, so they can choose the product that looks tastiest to them. The shelf trays are surrounded by two PRE Brands shelf flags—one has the PRE logo, and the other says “100% grass fed”—to assist consumers in finding our product.
How many meat products does PRE Brands sell in the new package?
Sinclair: We currently have eight: 85% Lean Ground Beef, 92% Lean Ground Beef, 95% Lean Ground Beef, New York Strip Steak, Ribeye Steak, Filet Mignon Steak, Top Sirloin Steak and Chuck Roast. A ninth product, 1/3-lb Burger Patties, will be launching in May and will also be sold in the new packaging.
How many sizes does the package come in?
Sinclair: We have a standard retail size and a club-pack size across all products. Our retail packages have one item per package, with the exception of our upcoming Burger Patties, which will have two patties per package. Our club packs contain two to four items per package, depending on the SKU [stock-keeping unit].
Where are the products sold?
Sinclair: Geographically, our product is sold all across the United States. Specifically, we have in-store retail presence in the Midwest and on the East Coast. We are available nationwide on Amazon Fresh.
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