Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats Feature Different Approach to Packaging; Reduce Plastic

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Minnesota-based Hormel is experiencing success with its new line of prepackaged deli meats called Natural Choice.

The line has expanded to include most of the popular types of deli style meats pre-sliced for consumers and ready to go.

Natural Choice packaging is different from competitors because it comes in a brown paperboard package containing a sealed plastic inner pouch containing the meat.

Natural Choice’s competitors are mostly using plastic containers made from #5 polypropylene plastic.  The containers are durable and reusable but many of them end up in the trash.  Those consumers who do try to recycle the containers usually find out their community does not recycle #5 plastic yet.  So the container ends up in the landfill.

Here in Rhode Island, the statewide recycling authority, Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation will not recycle #5 plastic or “tub” style containers made of #1 (PETE, PET) or #2 (HDPE).

The recycling situation we have here in Rhode Island is common across the country.  Until communities will recycle these types of plastic buying deli meats packaged in them doesn’t seem practical.

So this is what interests me about the Natural Choice line.  They have taken a different approach packaging their deli meats using a recyclable paperboard outer package and a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch on the inside.

In order to achieve this packaging design Hormel turned to an emerging technology in packaging.   Using high-pressure processing (HPP), a post-packaging pressurization process that subjects the vacuum-packed deli meats to 87,000 pounds per square inch of pressure the company is able eliminate the need for preservatives.  The packaged deli meats have a shelf live of over 120 days according to Hormel.

Food Processing reported Avure Technologies in Kent Washington is Hormel’s vendor for this packaging process.  Hormel would not confirm that report.

The outer packaging is as of as much interest to me as the high-pressure process used to package the meats.  By using a paperboard out package the company has eliminated the need for a plastic container.

Ryan Vossler, Product Manager for Hormel Natural Choice said, “The Hormel Natural Choice outer packaging is recyclable and features natural, distinct brown and green earth tones. This packaging design was chosen because there was a connect with our consumers between an all-natural, great tasting product and packaging that was earth-friendly and had a natural look and feel.”