If you’re like most pork processors, whole and portioned ham product sales at the holidays are the seasonal revenue bump that can make or break your year. However, with greater competition, limited merchandising space, and more options available to consumers both in stores and online, the stakes behind specialty packaging have never been higher. Putting thoughtful details into your seasonal or holiday packaging regimen has never been more important when it comes to conveying the eye-catching characteristics that consumers look for — artisanal quality, freshness, flavor, and your brand’s story.
As a major packaging supplier to the ham industry for more than 20 years, packaging innovation has been a pivotal part of Flavorseal’s mission. So when it comes to holiday packaging for hams, we have five tips and strategies for processors to outsmart the competition.
- Don’t go with the status quo. Packaging your premium holiday products using everyday shrink packaging may be economical, but it also may be short-sighted when you’re up against a sea of competitors. When multiple brands of shrink-bagged whole and half hams are merchandised in large bins, and in various locations around food stores, it’s easy to overlook brands. Hams that are shrink-packaged in poorly fitted bags with messy, dog-eared corners do not communicate premium quality. In addition, store price tags could obscure labels, branding, and product details.
- Rethink the shrink. Be sure to use shrink bags with a high rate of shrink to eliminate dog-eared corners and improve the overall appearance of hams packaged for the holidays. Consider using bone guard shrink bags, which eliminate the need for added bone guard protection that could obscure the product inside. Since heavier-weight shrink packaging can appear slightly cloudy or yellow, select shrink packaging that is as clear as possible, which gives consumers a better view of the meat cut, quality, and presentation before buying. High clarity packaging communicates to consumers so much more about how lean your product is,the herbs and seasonings included, and even how it’s been processed.
- Add another wrap. Another strategy is wrapping the tightly shrink-wrapped item in a mylar bag or other high end material, such as butcher or kraft paper. Using mylar is also a great way to add color and patterns to packaging to make it stand out from competitors. Solid-colored mylar can be switched out with printed mylar to add to a high-end, specialty look.
One major producer of ham products using mylar overwraps has equated it to a gift to be opened at the holidays: “...it creates an eye-catching and impactful view for the consumer,” she said, as reported in a recent Meatpoultry.com article.
Mylar is available in a variety of colors and patterns, so it can be used to match or highlight your brand colors, or display your logo. And it’s a great way to draw attention to specific products merchandised in bins with competitive brands.
- There’s nothing like netting. Adding an overwrap of decorative netting on top of mylar or shrink packaging is another great strategy that conveys high quality and an artisanal look. If you’re already using decorative plastic netting, consider using cotton netting that mimics the netting pattern used to process the ham.
Netting has a practical use as well: looped netting handles make it easier to carry a heavy ham. The clipped handles also make it far easier to attach tags for pricing, marketing or instructional purposes. This also helps ensure that product labels will not be obscured by price stickers.
Netting can also be a key packaging addition for products sold online. According to a recent Packaging World article, one major retailer opted to package an online-only premium ham with small details to convey small-batch, artisan quality. Some of them include a reusable cloth net bag and hangtag with quality information.
- Keep the spirit beyond the season. Once you’ve tried these techniques for the holidays, you may also find it beneficial to continue them going forward: A recent study sponsored by The Pork Checkoff found that many consumers would be receptive to new packaging-related approaches that make hams more appealing at other times of the year. Some off-season product ideas include: products with nontraditional flavor profiles, hams prepared especially for grilling, and smaller portion hams.
Try some or all of these packaging ideas this season and see how your retailers and their customers respond. Flavorseal can help you design and implement a seasonal packaging plan to include shrink bag, mylar and netting solutions. Contact us today to start a conversation about your upcoming seasonal packaging strategy.