COVID-19 accelerates long-term shift towards omnichannel grocery sales

Taunton, MA. February 25, 2021–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Harpak-ULMA today announced its increased investment in Case-ready programs to support the strong and continued growing emphasis, fueled by grocery industry shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on case-ready fresh food packaging.

The initiative will focus new planning, resources, and commitments to deliver the technological innovation, customer service, and end-to-end packaging solutions required to improve both value and bottom-line performance for producers of case-ready meat, poultry, and seafood.

In addition, Jay Siers, an industry veteran with 35 years of case-ready experience, has been appointed to the new position of Case-Ready Specialist to execute the new initiative.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the long-term shift towards omnichannel grocery sales, placing increased market pressures and demand on producers of case-ready fresh meats — which is portioned and packaged at a central processing facility rather than inside the retail store. COVID-19 continues to reshape the landscape, challenging food producers, grocery retailers, and consumers,” said Jerry Rundle, Harpak-ULMA vice president of sales.

“Case-ready producers need flexible packaging lines that deliver a better bang for the buck – and there is no OEM better positioned to deliver on this than Harpak-ULMA,” Rundle said. “Customers seeking to pivot their packaging strategy in response to market changes benefit from more flexible packaging solutions. Our expertise in that arena delivers them tangible savings, in both time and money.”

The Case-Ready Challenge
For producers, case-ready meat, poultry, and seafood packaging can help offset supply and demand uncertainties associated with perishables distribution models that are traditionally built around just-in-time inventories. Case-ready packaging minimizes handling and maximizes fresh foods shelf life by enabling modified atmosphere, vacuum, and active or intelligent packaging techniques.

Both producers and retailers experienced significant difficulties when faced with the COVID-driven pivot from food service to retail channels. Grocers with the capability to process primal cuts were forced to assume more backroom product handling, including unpackaging, hand-cutting, and repackaging fresh products — all of which consumes time, requires expertise, and increases waste. Pre-packaged fresh meat, poultry, and seafood products are a convenient solution that allows retailers to offer consumers more variety in improved packaging, cut down on labor, and eliminate the risk of creating waste while trimming and portioning. As the Case-ready supply chain constricted, larger retailers with economic clout were able to procure some supplies, but many simply went without product.

COVID also heightened consumers’ food-safety sensitivity: case-ready packaging reduces the number of human hands in contact with the product. While the pandemic shifted demand away from foodservice, e-commerce, and grocery deliveries surged – both sales channels benefit from case-ready packaging. Case-ready packaging plays an outsized role in the online shopping experience for protein products, offering more consistent weights and better product protection during shipping. Consumers enjoy improved product visibility and tamper and leak-proof packages that are easily stackable in refrigerators and freezers. Case-ready packaging also allows for more precise control of product aging, enhancing the consumer eating experience for beef products.

Jay Siers, Case-Ready Specialist
“Jay Siers’ appointment as Case-Ready Specialist brings 35 years of case-ready experience and a unique skill set that will strengthen our presence in the case-ready market,” Rundle said. Siers joins Harpak-ULMA from a position as North American Sales Manager with FPEC Corp. There, he was responsible for beef and pork system sales in North America as well as select multi-national accounts.

Siers will lead the establishment of a presence for Harpak-ULMA in Omaha, Nebraska, which has a long history in the fresh meat markets and said his appointment with the company “where customer-driven innovation is paramount” is the capstone of his 35-year industry experience. Siers added, “Companies that take the time to get to know their customers products make better recommendations and that builds trust. I’m also aware of customers that credit HARPAK-ULMA for bringing them new packaging ideas and technologies they hadn’t previously considered. That’s more important than ever. Our industry is facing an onslaught of challenges ranging from managing labor turnover, a gating factor for growth, to implementing digital transformation improvements accelerated by effects of a worldwide pandemic. I’m looking forward to leveraging advanced technologies from Augmented Reality to smart connected machines to bring case-ready producers to the next level of production efficiencies,” Siers said.

For more information on Harpak-ULMA case-ready solutions, visit https://go.harpak-ulma.com/meatpackagingmachines#meatpackagingsolutions or call 800-813-6644.

About Harpak-ULMA

Harpak-ULMA is the North American arm of ULMA, a $1B industry leader in complete packaging line solutions for Food, Medical, Bakery, and Industrial products. Harpak-ULMA provides smart, connected packaging systems utilizing Rockwell Automation’s controls and information platforms to deliver greater efficiency, uptime, and throughput, as well as better package quality and reduced waste. Well-designed, reliable solutions reduce customers’ total cost of ownership, help them overcome the challenges of an aging and evolving workforce, and improve control of maintenance expenses with competitive parts sourcing.

In addition to offering ULMA primary packaging system and comprehensive automation solutions,
Harpak-ULMA is the exclusive North American distributor of G. Mondini tray sealers, and RAMA secondary packaging machinery. Harpak-ULMA joined the Rockwell Automation Partner Network in 2018 as part of its initiative to build and deploy smart, connected packaging solutions.

All trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of respective owners.

For more information, contact Mary Ahlfeld at maryahlfeld@harpak-ulma.com.

Contacts

Mary Ahlfeld
Harpak-ULMA
508-884-2500
maryahlfeld@harpak-ulma.com