Younger consumers, known as the Millennial generation (those under 35) are becoming increasingly distanced from their food and the reality of eating meat. Nearly 40% prefer not to handle raw meat, which is quite a jump from the 25% of the general population with the same preference.
In light of this news Sainsbury has announced it will offer chicken in straight to pan packs. Doypacks, as they are known, are already used to package coffee, gravies and other foods but they are now set to hold raw chicken, presumably in whole breasts as well as strips for stir-frying. Concerns around campylobacter and other food borne bacteria, as well as the actual feel of raw chicken, are the main reasons why younger, and perhaps less experienced cooks, are scared of touching it.
Most supermarkets already offer ready to roast whole chickens in a tray and roasting bag that means the customers never has to touch the raw product, and strong sales of these hybrid convenience products have informed Sainsbury’s decision to offer more meat products in so-called “touch-free” packaging. Focus groups concentrating on the new packaging and how it may be received backed this up, with one participant admitting to spraying antibacterial cleaning spray on chicken before it was cooked.
Although this new packaging may help to encourage younger consumers to keep eating meat at a time when veganism is on the rise, it does cast a shadow on the ability of people to understand where their food comes from – after all food is not meant to be scary and certainly not meant to be coated in Flash!
It will be interesting to see how the new packaging is received, as many people are actively trying to use less single use plastic products, with some butchers switching to paper and biodegradable packaging, or encouraging customers to bring their own tubs. Supermarkets who use a lot of unnecessary plastic are targeted by consumer groups looking to reduce plastic waste, with some high profile campaigns seeing shoppers unpacking their fruit and veg at the store and leaving the wrappers behind. Sainsbury are appealing to a younger generation with their touch free packaging, but there is also a considerable portion of the same demographic who feel very strongly about single use plastic. Time will tell whether this is a good, or a bad move from the retailer.