In its new report ‘Meat Packaging to Extend Shelf Life’, the analyst said potential benefits included: lower environmental costs of meat consumption, expanded geographical sales coverage, better margins across the value chain, and product premiumisation.
Traditionally, consumer preference for fresh meat has meant sales have been limited in terms of geographical distribution. However, by addressing consumer trends, improving the price and quality positioning of products and widening export ranges to new markets, new opportunities could arise, said Rabobank.
Clara van der Elst, analyst at Rabobank, said: "New packaging and processing technologies have major benefits for retailers, consumers and producers alike.
"For the retailer, less waste and fewer markdowns are conducive to lowering costs. Consumers benefit from a longer consumption period and fewer preservatives, in turn fulfilling demand for ‘natural’ foods, and producers benefit from increased market potential through an expanded geographical export range."
While consumers in the north west of Europe are more inclined to buy packaged meat from supermarkets, the eastern and southern regions of Europe are home to a more burgeoning traditional butchery market, speciality stores and open air markets. "It is here that export potential is created," said the report.
Particular technologies it believes could be utilised for this purpose are vacuum skin packaging (VSP) and carbon monoxide modified atmosphere packaging (CO-MAP).
The report also noted the potential for exports to China, due to a preference for non-locally produced meat.
Packaged chilled meat and ready-to-eat meat has seen the fastest growth in China up around 20% per year, according to Rabobank.
"Winners will be those that adopt early investment into new packaging and processing technologies, while driving consumer premiumisation in mature retail markets," it added.