Food netting for products like ham, deli meats, cheeses and other food items comes in a range of types, materials, patterns, sizes and colors. So selecting the food netting that is right for your product depends first and foremost on the product-oriented goals you’d like to accomplish.
For example, many processors seek the functional, process-oriented aspects of netting, such as the surface texture, pattern, color and flavor it can impart to prepared products like ham and deli meats.
Other processors may be more interested in how decorative and elastic netting can add a finishing touch to their packaged product, open up new merchandising possibilities, or let them bundle multiple products for sale.
And, some processors may be interested in netting products that accomplish both of these feats.
To find the most appealing netting solutions for a given product or processor, it helps to have a routine checklist or survey process to uncover challenges and goals. So we’ve created the following questions to help narrow down each processor’s aims.
If you’re interested in what netting can do for your product, or in exploring the range of netting options, consider the following basic questionnaire as a solid starting point.
1. Will your product sales benefit from a process change, a packaging change, or both?
Before we can help a processor select the netting product that’s right for them, we try to find out what sorts of changes they ultimately want to make, and whether those changes implicate the look or form of the product itself or the merchandising of the packaged product.
Netting used for decorative purposes are designed to showcase the product inside. These products can be made in just about any color requested, and they can feature loops for handling as well as a variety of closure options and unique tagging possibilities. Besides serving as a functional packaging layer, premium decorative netting and elastic netting products also can enhance the look of products at retail.
2. If the netting is intended to affect the production process for the product, what type of protein product is it?
Because specific process nettings are designed for different products, product identification and description are important. Whole muscle products require different netting specifications than do slurry products. The presence or absence of seasonings is another important consideration. The answers to these questions will help designate the specific netting types that may be right for a particular product and/or achieving a certain outcome.
3. What are the dimensions and weight of the product?
Product dimensions and weight have a bearing on netting pattern selection and netting material. For example, large patterns may not work well for smaller products. And heavy products require sturdier netting than lighter weight products.
4. Do you want to add color, smokes, or release agents?
Netting can be used to do all of these things, so adding one or more of these features can maximize processing time by consolidating processing or cooking steps. Adding smokes to netting, for example, may eliminate the need for a smoking step. And adding release agents will help the netting to come away from the product easily and quickly, while reducing surface tears and improving product yields.
5. What shape is desired for the finished product, and will it benefit from having a surface pattern?
The key purpose of functional netting is to form and shape the meat during processing, and oftentimes to add an appealing surface pattern to the product. Processors looking to enhance their product’s shape and surface should revisit this question regularly, as pattern possibilities and forming abilities change all the time.
6. How will the netting be applied to the product?
Hand-applied netting requires different sizes and lengths of netting than netting that’s applied with an automated process. So the answer to this question informs whether the netting product needs to be provided in individual pieces and preset lengths, or as a bulk product on rolls, shears or rucks.
7. What temperature ranges will the netting be subjected to?
Different types of netting can withstand different ranges of heat, so the cooking temperature for a particular product also informs the type of netting that can be used.
As you can see from considering these questions, food netting can accomplish a wide variety of goals and offers many possibilities in terms of both process and packaging. So considering all of these factors, as well as the more detailed questions that each one raises, will lead to netting selection that accomplishes your goals.
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