Supermarket sales of home-meal replacements are growing at least 10 percent per year as the plastic packages move beyond freezer cases into delicatessen, food service or refrigerated locations, according to a Technomic Inc. industry study's May update.
``Supermarkets are trying to go after the dinner dollar'' and compete with prepackaged meals ``available to customers from fast food businesses,'' said Mark Spencer, new product development manager with Tenneco Packaging in Lake Forest, Ill. Tenneco Packaging helped fund the study.
Meal packagers use talc-filled polypropylene or crystallized PET, generating ``tremendous growth with those materials,'' Spencer said. Lids of oriented polystyrene contain an antifog technology that allows a consumer to see a hot item before making a purchase.
Initially, packagers of frozen entrees or meals were the biggest users of these materials, but now Tenneco Packaging is selling up to 40 food-related container styles using these high-performance plastics for packaging of hot roasted chicken, ribs or other foods-to-go or chilled foods for reheating.