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Spar has a new way of packaging its chicken – it stays fresh for longer and uses less plastic

| On the move

Retailer Spar says it is using a new innovative packaging for its chicken that can extend shelf life, reduce food wastage and at the same time reduce the amount of plastic they use.

Spar says its new advanced ‘skinpack wrapping for fresh chicken’ makes use of vacuum sealing, that allows for easier freezing and prevents leakage, as well as uses polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials for its base and top, contrary to industry standard. 


“Shelf life tests show us that an increase of an additional three days in the product’s shelf life is achievable, should the entire value cold chain be kept as per prescribed protocols,” said Jacques Roets, SPAR Group Butchery Manager.

And thanks to a longer shelf life, Roets says that Spar expects to save up to 50% in food waste.

“The average wastage on fresh chicken is estimated to be between 2% to 3% of total fresh chicken purchases.”   

The packaging is made from two types of material: a top web made from recyclable PET material; and a bottom web (the black base of the product) made from amorphous PET. Rather than industry standard applications that uses foam trays (styrene) and overwrap plastic (PVC) said Roets, some of which isn’t recyclable in South Africa.

“The Extended Shelf Life (ESL) base and lidding material is thinner than the industry standard, meaning that our ESL skin pack chicken uses 25% less plastic compared to market standard,” said Roets.

This reduction, combined with a 0% scrap generation policy - whereby any scrap is re-introduced in the production process - results in a 60% reduction in carbon footprint, said Roets. 

The packaging contains a minimum of 30% recycled material and further tests are being conducted to improve the current recyclability of the ESL packaging, said Roets.  

The packaging is expected to be rolled out at selected Spar stores in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape as well as KwaZulu-Natal. By May it should be in the Western Cape.   

While all portions are priced individually, Spar says it will be absorbing some of the cost of packaging to get the pricing closer to current market standards.

Spar said they are exploring packaging options for other meat products but cannot elaborate much further.


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