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Need for Sustainable Packaging in Meat Industry The perception of it being a largely vegetarian country notwithstanding, meat production in India is estimated to be around 6.3 million tonnes, which makes it the fifth largest producer of meat in the world, but it has its own challenges

By Lisa Suwal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As of 2016, India exported US$ 5 billion of meat per year. By 2022, the Indian meat market is estimated to touch US$ 65 billion as compared to US$ 31 billion in 2018 which indicates a CAGR of 20per cent.

According to Central Pollution Study board, India produces 26,000 tonnes of plastic every day. Data provided by FICCI confirms that the plastic packaging industry in India is worth US$ 32 billion.

Consumers are Demanding Sustainability

As of today, more than 50per cent of consumers in the US take recyclability, sustainability and biodegradability of packaging into account while purchasing products. In fact, according to a study done by Dataessential, 43per cent of consumers believe that it is important for retail packaging to be recyclable and reusable.

Technology is Making it Possible

For instance, biopolymer lined clamshell containers made of bagasse can be used by cafes or restaurants to package food on the move. Due to the biopolymer coating, the containers won't leak when transporting hot or cold food items but will biodegrade over a period of time.

Lowers Carbon Footprint

Increase in the usage of sustainable packaging reduces carbon emissions drastically. Sustainable packaging products are light, use renewable fibres and optimized manufacturing processes. This enables them to substantially reduce their carbon footprint from cradle to gate.

Requires Less Energy and Cost

Trays which are created using sustainable methods require lower levels of heat for sealing which reduces the energy consumption of the manufacturer by 15per cent. Alternative packaging materials might be lighter and therefore could result in cost reduction over the long run for manufacturers. Lightweight materials would also cost less to be manufactured.

Improves Preservation of Meat

Highest preservation standards have to be met while packaging meat as exposure to oxygen may spoil it. Certain sustainable packaging methods come with oxygen barrier quality. The oxygen barrier improves the shelf life of meat and therefore reduces wastage

Meat Remains Fresh

Sustainable packaging methods make it possible for meat to remain fresh and retain their flavour over a longer period of time. It doesn't let external factors such as temperature or hygiene affect the meat.

Transparent Packaging Helps Customers to See the Product Directly

Traditional packaging methods end up covering the meat up completely. Therefore the consumer wouldn't know whether the meat is gone bad unless the packaging is removed. Sustainable packaging methods also place huge importance on keeping the packaging transparent so that consumers can literally see and then pick the meat product which they wish to buy.

Reduces Wastage and Increases Profits

Sustainable packaging methods can also help reduce wastage of produce. Retailers often experience 2 per cent to 4per cent shrinkage from the meat packet. Due to this shrinkage, they are either forced to throw the meat or reduce the price. It is obvious that throwing the meat away causes significant wastage.

Sustainable cases can use vacuum packaging and reduce shrinkage. These cases also end up looking attractive to consumers. Reduction in wastage and a improve number of purchases by consumers improves profit margins for retailers.

Better for the Planet

After sustainable packaging items are disposed of they can be either recycled or will under biodegradation at acceptable levels. Items manufactured from plant sources can even be used as compost for soil.

Therefore it is time for the meat industry in India to invest in packaging.

Lisa Suwal

Lisa Suwal - CEO of Prasuma

A Postgraduate from Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune. Lisa Suwal - CEO of Prasuma - Pioneers of premium Meats and Delicatessen. Growing up in a family involved in delicatessen business for over 30 years, she has always been exposed to the nitty-gritty of the business and the art of making good food. A young and seasoned marketer, she is known for her innovative approach towards brands and alluring business perspective.

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