UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, has announced plans to sell raw meat in touch-free packaging to meet the growing demand of the preoccupied and squeamish millennial consumer. The straight-to-pan plastic pouches – commonly known as “doypacks” within the industry – allow customers to cook raw meats without directly touching the product.
The chicken-in-a-pouch range will release in early May. The range will include citrus tikka chicken pieces and teriyaki-style pieces. If proven popular, the range will extend into the pork and fish categories.
“Customers, particularly younger ones, are quite scared of touching raw meat," Katherine Hall, Product Development Manager for Meat, Fish and Poultry at Sainsbury's, says. "These bags allow people, especially those who are time-poor, to just ‘rip and tip’ the meat straight into the frying pan without touching it.”
Fears of food posioning, increasingly busy lifestyles, and the growing popularity of dining-out, particularly among millennials, have been cited as motivations behind the new touch-free packaging. Katherine Hall believes the problem stems from a lack of education in where meat comes from and how to cook it.
“A lot of younger people are eating out in restaurants but they are not preparing as much food in their home,” adds Katherine Hall, “If they are not used to it, they may think, ‘Ugh! I’d prefer someone else to do it for me.’” She also recalls a focus group session in which one lady admitted to coating her raw chicken in antibacterial spray before cooking it for fear of harmful bacteria such as campylobacter.
Ruth Mason of the National Farmers’ Union said it was “disconcerting that shoppers are so removed from their food.” It is a concern for the meat industry as an increasing number of consumers adopt vegetarian or vegan diets and the volume of meat-replacement products grows.
There has been market growth in the category of meat-in-a-bag products, especially chickens that can be bought and cooked in a bag. “We have seen sales data of those, and we are aware they have done very, very well,” says Ruth Mason. “We know one of the reasons is because consumers do not have to touch a raw bird.”