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The growing popularity of ready meal packaging

In the past years, there has been a growth of 25% in the popularity of ready meals. This growth is driven by changing lifestyles, budget considerations, and the desire to free up time for other activities. Ready meals are meals that are already prepared or ingredients packed together, and can be frozen, chilled or shelf stable. Consumers only need to heat up the meal in the microwave or follow the instructions on the packaging on how to prepare the ingredients into one meal [1].

Additionally, these meals offer an easy way to experiment with global flavours, like Indian Tikka Masala. Ready meals are also very convenient for people who lack confidence in cooking, providing detailed instructions and simple recipes that make home cooking more accessible to a wider audience [2].

With the growing popularity of ready meals, producers are looking for effective ready meal packaging. Important factors in selecting these packaging solutions include for example heat resistance and sustainability. As more than 77% of consumers find sustainable packaging valuable; this is something producers need to take into account when developing their packaging. Producers need to ensure that their packaging remains heat resistant to meet the requirements of ready meal preparation.

At Solidus, we are dedicated to making packaging solutions that are sustainable, extend the shelf life of products but also preserve their freshness and taste. Our new MAP tray offers a great option for ready made products, meeting the producers’ requirements for ready meal packaging.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

Solidus’ Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) solution offers a renewable fibre-based alternative to wholesalers and retailers who are ready to replace plastic trays with a more sustainable solution. MAP is a long-established method to extend the shelf life of fresh food like fresh or processed meat, ready-made products, cheese, frozen foods, fish, fruit or salads. The technology substitutes the air inside a package with a protective gas mix.

Ready meal packaging – MAP

Solidus MAP solutions match the shelf life afforded by traditional plastic MAP trays. It is Solidus’ mission to combat waste, particularly food waste. By prolonging the shelf life, we aim to reduce the amount of food waste. In order to create packaging that extends the shelf life, we collaborate extensively with suppliers, start-ups, research centers, and NGOs to explore how packaging can contribute to reducing food waste. This involves developing design criteria, selecting materials, and integrating smart technologies to extend the shelf life of food.

As the MAP tray is in direct contact with the ready meals, Solidus ensures food contact compliance for its paper and board materials. Besides being food contact approved, our MAP trays are also suitable and safe for heating up, which makes it the perfect packaging for ready meals.

We are able to customise the MAP trays to fit your specific needs, covering every aspect from size and shape to colour and printing, ensuring your packaging stands out. We incorporate practical features such as handles, windows, compartments, and unique closures, all adhering to Design for Recycling (DfR) standards. Our fibre-based packaging also allows direct communication with your customers through personalised and up-to-date content, eliminating the need for additional labels or wrap-around sleeves.

We offer a range of cardboard grammages to cover an extensive range of applications, all of which will run smoothly on installed tray sealers.  

Sustainability of MAP trays

Besides the practical advantages of the MAP tray, sustainability is also an important topic in packaging foods such as ready meals. Solidus’ packaging solutions represent a 360 degree approach to the increasing demand for sustainable and circular packaging. By selecting our packaging materials and services, customers can future-proof their packaging and enhance operational efficiency.

Solidus’ MAP tray uses an FSC® certified barrier-lined solid board made from renewable fibres. By choosing materials certified by these schemes, our customers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing.

After consumer use, the MAP tray can be easily recycled. Paper and board fibres are collected from local municipalities and traders and seamlessly integrated back in the paper recycling process. Our packaging can be recycled up to 25 times. This contributes to a circular economy by giving these fibres a new life as sustainable materials.

In addition, life cycle analysis (LCA) shows that fibre-based MAP trays have a significantly better carbon footprint compared to fossil-based alternatives. Our LCA study is available upon request.

With Solidus’ innovative MAP trays, you can offer your customers the ready meals they want, while also benefiting from the extended shelf life. Contact us today and discover how MAP solution can help with your ready meals.

[1] Grand View Research

[2] Innova Market Insight