Packaging Innovation for Fish and Seafood

There’s a huge part of the population that won’t go near fish, despite the awareness of the health benefits. And the consumers, who want to eat more seafood, don’t always feel comfortable preparing fish at home. This is underlined by a consumer research done by Saucy Fish, which concluded that “consumer resistance has nothing to do with sustainability. The biggest barriers are around consumer confidence and a perceived lack of convenience”.

It is clear that packaging, not only can help remove the fear and despise factor when it comes to fish, but also can suggest to the consumer just how easy it is to prepare.
While the focus in the UK is on fresh fish and seafood, in other European markets it is often the association with extended shelf-life and a convenient preparation of the fish, which influences the consumer to choose packaged product.

Fresh fish pack concept
As said the focus in the UK is on fresh fish and seafood. Although overall UK consumption of fish per head is just 2% higher today than in 1975, supermarkets are expanding their fresh fish offerings to include more sustainable species like gurnard, mackerel and skate. These fish are cheaper and just as tasty, but customers often shy away from them because they are unfamiliar and occasionally they just look plain ugly.

London design agency Postler Ferguson created a fresh fish pack concept intended for use at fresh fish counters. Constructed from a double layered polyethylene, they are airtight, resealable and can be filled with ice for transport to keep fish fresh.

This fish packaging proposal helps put unpopular and abundant fish more attractive to the end consumer and on equal standing with their more recognized brethren by placing them in an attractive and highly recognizable packaging.

Saucy Fish
Tesco challenged their fish supplier, Seachill, to come up with a sales-boosting product strategy.

The new Seachill’s Saucy Fish line of chilled ready-to-serve products, designed by Elmwood in London, features a range of seafood species offered with unique sauce combinations.
Elmwood uncovered a well-known, but still intriguing market insight. Not only is the fish category seriously devoid of innovation, but also consumers don’t feel confident about cooking and serving fish, while the sales outlet doesn’t give any inspirational hints.

Saucy Fish set out to overcome this resistance by packing portioned fish in easily merchandised skin packaging twinned with an appropriate sauce. Saucy Fish uses Sealed Air Darfresh skin packaging and for some products the Sira Cook cook-in bag from Sirane.
With the skin packaging there are no liquids moving within the pack, there is no need for an absorber, and the consumer gains better bacteriological control.

The packages are using paperboard sleeves or folding cartons printed by Paragon. They can be printed both sides to provide more consumer or product information. Hot and cold foil blocking can be incorporated to deliver a premium finish as well as combination varnish effects to deliver tactile, matte or gloss features.

To underline the introduction of the Saucy Fish packaging the company runs a promotion on packs of fresh tuna with Denny Bros’ 50mm, four page leaflet labels, which includes a unique code allowing shoppers to claim 500 points going towards prizes including £5 and free cinema tickets, an iPad and £100 of iTunes or £5 paid into the consumer’s bank account. Over 24,000 Fix-a-Forms were printed for the promotion.

For me one of the best packaging solutions for preparing/cooking fish by the unprofessional consumer is the ParchmentBake.

The secret to Mrs. Paul’s and Van de Kamp’s, brands of the Pinnacle Foods Group, is the unique parchment paper bag.
The ParchmentBake delicately bakes the pre-grilled, 100% whole-fillet tilapia in a sauce locking in the fish’s natural moisture and flavours. Cooking in parchment paper is a classic technique used in restaurants and by professional chefs. The consumer just places the parchment bags on a shallow baking tray and bake at 400oF (200oC) for twenty-two minutes.

The consumer just places the parchment bags on a shallow baking tray and bake at 400oF (200oC) for twenty-two minutes

The convenient ParchmentBake cooking process takes the guesswork out of preparing and serving seafood with no MSG (Monosodium glutamate), no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. ParchmentBake fillets have less than 80 calories, 13g of protein and 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

The puffed parchment bags in the hot oven

It isn’t only the preparing and cooking of fish. One of the main points in the supply of fresh fish to the consumer is the packaging that is shuffled around, sometimes roughly, in the supply chain.

High Liner frozen seafood
North American High Liner Foods markets its frozen seafood to retailers under the Sea Cuisine and Fisher Boy brands. The company switched to a mineral-based coating technology from Smart Planet Technologies.

High Liner’s decision to switch to EarthCoating for its retail packs, represents a staggering 26 million cartons/year and reduces plastic use by 40,000 lb/yr, according to a Life Cycle Analysis of the raw materials performed by Heritage Plastics.

EarthCoating from Smart Planet Technologies, is a relatively new technology that allows up to 60% of the LDPE in a barrier coating to be replaced with calcium carbonate (CaO3). The company claims that this is a very high-performance barrier coating that can be applied to just about any type of paper or folding carton material, using essentially all of the same equipment. The clear coating is said to provide up to a 60% greater Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate (MVTR) than 100% LDPE and offers comparable heat-seal performance.
The mineralized coating has been approved by the Food & Drug Administration for direct food-contact applications.

High Liner’s cartons are made by Clearwater Paper using its Candesce C1S paperboard, Cenveo prints the board. The EC-40 coating, made of 40% CaO3 and 60% LDPE, is supplied by compounder Standridge Color Corp., with the mineral content sourced from OMYA Worldwide.

The Life Cycle Analysis also suggests that by switching to EarthCoating versus 100% LDPE, High Liner will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10% and energy use from 232 kw/ton to approximately 228 kw/ton.

Next time let’s have a look at cheese packaging, another rather conventional segment in regard to packaging innovation.

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3 responses to “Packaging Innovation for Fish and Seafood

  1. am pleased to read the above info and please help need to know which materials and equipments do i need if i want to start my own business in packaging fishes

  2. hello there, my name is Monica. I fry very small fish called capenta, and I need packaging to increase the shelf life of this fish that is eaten as a snack.Obviously once this fish is fried it increases the chance of fish going off but the snack is popular in this from please advice. The other challenge is that this snack is for the larger populous so we need to have competively priced package which still does the job,
    Perhaps the issue is in the process of packing and not the material used in packing?
    Please Advice

    • Monica, I need some more info before I can give you a reasonable answer. First of all, where are you located? Is de capenta packed individually or by weight? Is it a hot snack or cold, in other words does it need heating (microwave) for consumption? Do you want a flexible or rigid packaging? What are the dimensions of the required packaging? Do you want the packaging transparent/clear? What’s the volume (number of packages) you are processing? Is it a manual operation or (semi)automatic? So answer these ones first and we will see where it will lead us. You can always send your answer directly to my email: bestinpackaging(at)xs4all(dot)nl

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