Ready-to-eat meal packaging provides perfect fit for modern life
Perfect Fit Meals (PFM), Houston, Texas, is said to be one of the first vendors to hit the market with premium, ready-to-eat meals featuring an extended shelf life and produced out of its USDA-certified kitchen. Since its inception in 2010, PFM continues to deliver high-quality, non-frozen meals that offer a healthy alternative to other products in the category.
In today’s fast-paced society, sitting down to eat a healthy, high-quality cooked meal can often seem impossible. But, PFM set out to try and change that notion by developing fresh, ready-to-eat meals that are USDA-certified, hand-crafted, portion-controlled and dietitian-designed for busy consumers.
Created by two fitness experts looking for a solution to their mealtime woes, PFM redefines the chilled, ready-to-eat food category with its innovative high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) and packaging methods, which allow for extended shelf life while maintaining high standards of taste and texture.
But, finding the perfect packaging solution wasn’t easy. PFM required a custom solution that worked well with their existing process while also providing a premium look and feel with transparent packaging, so consumers could see the high-quality food inside.
After meeting with multiple vendors to explain what they required in a custom packaging solution, it became obvious that most weren’t interested in reinventing their offerings to solve the challenges PFM set out to address.
“We spoke with multiple packaging companies, and were consistently told that what we were asking for couldn’t be done,” says Jasmine Sutherland, president of PFM. “Then, we talked to Ted Mori at Cryovac, and he helped us develop exactly what we needed. Today, he’s still involved in decision-making at PFM. We call him Uncle Ted.”
Not only was the performance of the finished product highly important, but PFM also needed a solution that helped eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination in the production process through a seamless segmentation of meals for allergy and dietary restrictions. The ability to easily segment the products through the packaging process in this way helped PFM ensure their own strict food safety regulations and meet the unique desires of their growing customer base.
From ideation to execution, Sealed Air Corp., the Elmwood Park, N.J., parent to Cryovac, worked closely with PFM to develop a Cryovac Simple Steps packaging solution that fit the company’s needs from a quality and safety standpoint, while also providing a way to present the meals in a practical and aesthetically pleasing way.
“Packaging is essential to our business model, and we wanted our meals to look like they had just come out of the kitchen,” says Sutherland. “We wanted our packaging to be transparent, just like our company.”
In addition to being vacuum sealed to help increase shelf life, Cryovac’s steam-assisted cooking technology releases heat and pressure as the food cooks, which helps keep the food from over-cooking and drying out. The BPA-free transparent package provides an appealing and healthy alternative to traditionally packed items.
The size of the plate that the meals were packaged and ultimately prepared on was another important consideration for PFM, as they wanted to provide customers with appropriately portioned meals. To meet this need, Cryovac further customized the Simple Steps solution by creating multiple size options that were a “perfect fit” for each of PFM’s meals.
Today, PFM sees Cryovac as a trusted partner that helps them grow their business. The company now sells 17 different ready-to-eat meals at premium grocery stores across the United States, and they’re continuing to expand their meal offerings and geographical locations. PFM’s customer-driven meal development program ensures that the meal variety, seasonal menu selections and protein options are always aligned with timely customer trends, and their custom-made Simple Steps packaging solutions help make that possible.
“Perfect Fit Meals is growing, and we aren’t afraid to push the limits,” adds Sutherland. “Having a partner like Sealed Air makes all the difference. We were a small company, and they could have easily ignored our requests, but they didn’t. They’re like us, always looking for the next big thing.”