Panicking at the thought of having to get rid of all your foam food containers? Don’t. Michael Thaler says the new legislation outlawing it can actually end up boosting ROI for restaurants and foodservice operations.
The executive vice president of marketing at Anchor Packaging says his company has a rich history of responding to trends through a combination of research, innovation, “and especially, grass-roots investigation with end users and consumers.” “In NYC, where people start the trends for the rest of the country, there’s been a shift towards organic food, non-GMO, looking for things that are closer to nature and “better for you,” Thaler explains. “And that tends to spill over into the belief that what’s good for the environment must be more natural and healthy, so the usage of foam containers is at odds with consumers wanting products that are better for them and the environment.” And that’s why the NYC legislation to outlaw the use of foam, as of July 1, comes as an opportunity, not a threat, for the operator and the foodservice industry as a whole. Your customers want better packaging!
“We’re on the cutting edge of the foam replacement issue because we pay close attention to emerging consumer behavior and taste trends that ultimately drive the creation of food items. Our role is finding a way to handle — and package — those new food trends with our unique products. We’re looking into the future, as we monitor change, to stay ahead of the industry in the development of new packaging.
Beginning in July 2015, certain expanded polystyrene items are banned from sale, distribution, or use in NYC. Thaler notes that though this legislation pushed the market along, the demand to get away from foam has been there for some time. He says it all comes down to the people who are buying the food. Thaler admits the legislation was a shocking change. “When that line in the sand was drawn on July 1 to get out of foam, operators naturally were in a rush to make sure they met the deadline and may have tried packages that don’t truly function well. “That’s where Anchor Packaging comes in.”
Most Anchor polypropylene bases are made with 40% limestone; a perpetual resource used to minimize the use of oil-based resins. With new manufacturing techniques, these products are engineered to use less material while maintaining the same strength and functionality. “Our products are not only aesthetically pleasing but they’re reusable food storage containers for the consumer and recyclable curbside, which benefits the planet,” he points out.
“So, as a way to help operators, we offer a lot of information on market trends and product specifications. In addition, we offer a Web-based tool where anyone can input a container they want to replace and it will show them instantly the Anchor product that is a similar size and shape,” Thaler says. The app is available online on Anchor’s homepage and can be accessed using a smart phone or any type of computer. “Our tool also helps in situations where an existing supplier may be having manufacturing issues and a customer is about to run out of product. The customer, or the DSR, can use this tool to quickly find a substitute and this, in turn, boosts the DSR’s value to the customer, because they’ve prevented them from running out of product,” Thaler says.
One of the key benefits of Anchor’s polypropylene containers is that food products can be prepared in advance of peak rush periods and staged under heat lamps or in a warming unit. “And when they have those lunch or dinner rush periods, they can already have put together their most popular meals, that are staying nice and warm in a container that’s not going to melt, or deform,” says Thaler. “Serving customers faster means you can get more customers in and out of the store in the same period of time, and that boosts profitability. You’ve got a product that’s environmentally friendly and recyclable at curbside, a container that a customer can eat right out of, without the disadvantages of foam, and when the customer’s all done, they can either recycle it or throw it in the dishwasher and reuse it just like the food storage containers they pay a premium for when they go out and buy them.”
Anchor’s products can hold hot food in a heated case, under heat lamps, or at room temperature and, when steam hits the lid, the container still remains clear, due to a proprietary anti-fog process. “Without anti-fog, when condensation forms, it’s like trying to look through a tropical rainforest. All our containers — whether holding hot or cold food — stay completely clear. We’ve put integral anti-fog into each lid, so that doesn’t happen,” says Thaler. “The packaging stays perfectly clear, so that appealing look, that presentation, the ability to capture that consumer with the eye, it’s all there. And with the food being visible to an operator trying to move things quickly, this ensures order accuracy, because you can see exactly what you’re handing the customer. “With our packaging, the operator can see the food and get the order right, which saves them from having to give out refunds for the wrong order. It also improves customer repurchase rates. A customer is more likely to come back if they’ve gotten that right order and gotten it in a good container that didn’t leak and performed well for them,” Thaler says.
Perhaps the biggest attraction of Anchor’s products is that all containers are leak-resistant, and for people eating in the car or the office, that can be vital. “There’s no spillage in the bag, or on consumer clothing, or in the car. Another advantage of this packaging is that a customer can put the container back in the microwave to reheat it if they can’t finish the whole meal in one sitting. If the consumer pulls it out a day later and throws it in the microwave, you don’t have to loosen the lid because the containers are vented and meant for microwaving,” Thaler says. “You can leave it in the container you buy your meal in, then just stick it in the microwave the next day, and presto! You’re done. No transferring the food to other containers. “The right presentation of food will drive more sales and potentially drive sales at a higher price point,” says Thaler. “If you’re selling more and getting a higher ring for it, then our packaging is doing what it was designed for. Consumers will tend to buy a larger portion if they know they can reheat the food in the microwave right in the container. There’s ROI in all of that.
For more information on Anchor Packaging, go to their website or call 800-467-3900.