Published 20 February 2018
Iceland Foods, the UK’s leading specialist retailer in the frozen food category, is refreshing the ready meals market with two new major product ranges launched in February and packed in paperboard trays.
With its 900 stores, Iceland Foods accounts for 30% of frozen ready meal sales in the UK, and the business is growing. The ready meal is improving in quality and becoming more diverse, with food trends arriving from around the world – and it is convenient to cook very quickly from frozen. Until now, ready meal trays have been mostly made of black plastic, which is currently not recycled and is one of the plastics potentially entering our food stream from the oceans. So, we need a change, says Ian Schofield, Own Label & Packaging Manager at Iceland Foods.
"We are moving away from plastic. We have now launched our new Mumbai Indian street food range in paperboard trays, which are fit for purpose and sustainable in every way. Sustainable forestry and an environmentally sound production process, largely run by bioenergy, make paperboard a sustainable choice, and it is also recyclable in the paper stream when rinsed well. This is a very big launch, especially the street food range, which includes 18 lines. The products are sold in all our stores," Mr. Schofield says.
Besides being sustainable, the board for ready meal packaging must be formable to different shapes and sizes, food-safe and suitable for cooking at high temperatures in ovens and microwaves. TrayformaTM by Stora Enso proved to be the right choice for Iceland Foods. The trays are manufactured by Southern Cross Packaging, who are known for fast and innovative packaging development for retailers.
"Southern Cross Packaging are delighted to be chosen by Iceland Foods and The Authentic Food Co. as the tray supplier for this product launch. We have invested over GBP 500 000 in new tooling and production lines in the past four months to be ready to support retailers such as Iceland Foods with the move to more sustainable and widely recyclable packaging," says Karin Edwards, Sales Manager at Southern Cross Packaging.
"As market leaders, Iceland are known for rapid product launches and we have frequent range refreshes every three months. When we start new product development, we must integrate the packaging development into the process. With food producer Authentic Food and Southern Cross Packaging, it took only seven months from kickoff to store, with a completely different type of package. And the outcome is brilliant," Mr. Schofield confirms.
For Iceland Foods, this is just the beginning. The company will continue to look for non-plastic options for packaging, not just the board but also coatings and films. The potential extends into the chilled, produce and grocery areas, in addition to frozen food.