When measuring the success of any meal delivery service, it all comes down to one thing: The ability to deliver fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to customers. Without proper packaging and insulation, meals may not survive the journey from your facility to the customer’s doorstep. The meal delivery packaging you choose is just as important as the food itself.
Over the past decade, meal delivery services have continuously evolved their methods of delivering their products. Let’s learn a little more about the industry and the types of food delivery packaging and insulation supplies you need to ensure your products arrive fresh and undamaged.
Meal Delivery Services
There is a reason why the meal prep delivery business is booming and is projected to grow to over $7.6 billion by 2024. Meal kits provide pre-measured fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes to consumers' homes. This allows customers to prepare home-cooked meals without the need for shopping and completing the more detailed parts of food and ingredient prep.
Typically, meal delivery kits are shipped directly from the food packagers to the customer. Depending on location, this could be a lengthy journey, especially when packages contain perishable and temperature-sensitive food products.
Meal Prep Delivery Packaging Components
Whether kits are shipped frozen or chilled, all packaging needs a reliable temperature-controlled packaging solution. Insulated packaging is the best way to help guarantee products stay fresh for extended periods of time.
Generally, the package consists of four different components:
Outer Container: Outer containers are usually made from corrugated (cardboard) and are recyclable. This packaging layer is also custom branded with company logos and other marketing to promote the meal delivery service.
Insulation Components: There are several types of insulation that can be used inside the box, including molded polystyrene boards or a custom fit cooler.
Inner Containers: These are the containers that specifically hold different food items. This can include many types of packages like small paper and plastic bags for spices, plastic bottles and cartons for liquids, larger paper and plastic for vegetables, and plastic containers for meat.
Refrigerants: Keeping the contents of your meal kit chilled and fresh is imperative. Refrigerants work with the insulation components to provide a stable temperature inside the box. There are many types of refrigerants to consider depending on your meal kit contents and how far it needs to travel to the customer.
Common Types of Refrigerants
Most meal delivery packaging is designed to keep food fresh and cold up to 48 hours after the kit’s estimated delivery time. There are a few different types of refrigerants that can be used depending on the location of the food packager, the destination of the box, the season and other environmental variables that can impact temperatures inside the box.
These are the most used refrigerants:
Ice: If food delivery is more localized with only a short amount of time between the products being packaged and delivered to the customer, ice can be used to help insulate packaging.
Gel Packs: Water-soluble gel is frozen inside plastic packs to keep items cold. The active ingredient in gel packs is sodium polyacrylate. When this is combined with water and frozen, it thaws significantly slower than ice. Once the gel packs have thawed, they can be re-frozen and used again.
Dry Ice: Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide and turns from a solid into a gas as it melts. With a cold temperature of -109.3F, it is ideal for food that needs to be kept very cold, like already frozen foods.
Choose the Right Food Delivery Packaging
Meal delivery packages often have a long journey from packaging to delivery and there are many factors involved in choosing the right type of insulation and refrigerant to keep food fresh. Atlas Molded Products offers protective packaging options that work with any refrigerant and for any meal delivery service.
Atlas Protective Packaging effectively cushions and protects your products throughout the entire distribution process of shipping, handling and storage. With facilities located nationwide, these products are manufactured under an industry-leading quality control program with design, customization and testing services available to meet your needs.
Cold Chain Packaging
Atlas DuraTherm® Cold Chain products effectively insulate and protect your products with a full range of stock cooler sizes and are manufactured using industry-leading quality control standards and guidelines. DuraTherm products can be designed, customized, kitted and tested to meet all meal service delivery needs.