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Soaring Meal Kit Business and Automated Packaging Solutions

Enjoying a launch during the noon of a preoccupied business day can be a luxury.

Consumers nowadays prefer to take a choice that saves time, while meantime still with healthy ingredients. Meal kit has changed a lot of consumer behavior to such a stage that people in the past could never imagine that convenience and taste can be compatible with each other.

Topics: ready meals, meal kit, packaging machine for meal kits

Questions to answer:

  • Why meal kits have reached to be so popular?
  • Concerns about food packaging
  • Why cardboard sleeves are ideal secondary packaging for ready meals?
  • What are the different styles of cardboard sleeve packaging?

Balanced Convenience and Taste

Meal Kit
Meal Kit
Courtesy of Huhtamaki

In the past, prepared and ready-to-eat meals were produced in a way that few concerns were placed about striking a balance between their convenience, nutrition and taste. While on the on contrary, in order to prepare your own meal by yourself you must take your hunt in the supermarket, drive home with your ingredients, and spend a considerable time in your kitchen and then time to organize and clean the spoilage, residuals and waste caused during cooking. All these will cost a fair amount of time, and you know, time is money.

The lucky part for our generation is that meal kits are nowadays made with concerns around taste as well as convenience. Huhtamaki, the Nordic food processing and manufacturing company, indicates that meal kits will go through a steady rise in market volume and become the choice for the hurried 21st Century.

In accordance with data by Statista, the market volume of meal kit delivery services in the United States will reach $12 billion by 2022.


Food Processing and Manufacturing Companies’ Concerns around Packaging

The distribution along the supply chain to bring in a safe manner meal kits to consumers’ tables requires specific packaging solutions.

  • On the one hand,

meal kit packaging must ensure that during the transport no damage will be made to the package, so as to avoid spoilage of food contained. The problem will be significant when it comes to meal kits like soup and lasagna which are liquid or semi-liquid and sticky. It should be secured.

  • On the other hand,

meal kit packaging should not be too complex to raise the logistics cost and hinder consumers from a fast enjoyment. It should be simple.

A common approach of food processing and manufacturing companies is to get the meal kits loaded in thermoformed containers such as trays, tubs, pots, etc., then containers are then sealed with film to provide the package with the primary packaging for protection.

All we know is that a simple splice of the film is vulnerable to exterior damage during transport. What is further packaging needed then?

Thanks to the video of Handerson Food Machinery

Cardboard Sleeve as the Secondary Packaging for Meal Kits

Comparing Pre-glued sleeve and wrap-around sleeve

Why do meal kits need cardboard sleeves as the secondary packaging?

Apart from the reason above-mentioned that the primary packaging of meal kits is not stable enough to withstand damage, the reason that cardboard sleeves are the ideal option for secondary packaging are as follows:

  • Cardboard sleeves are simpler in structure than traditional carton boxes. This helps to save packaging costs and makes the package easy to tear.
  • Cardboard sleeves allow more options for customization and can be designed in various shapes, sizes, and styles.
  • Cardboard sleeves are more reusable. You can take avail of leftover sleeves without breaking the packaging. This is what carton boxes can not achieve.
  • Cardboard sleeves do not make any concession to protection. It is as solid and reliable as carton boxes.
  • Cardboard sleeves, if made with reusable materials, can reduce packaging waste significantly.


Challenges with Packaging for Meal Kits

Packaging of meal kits goes through a complex process of thermoforming, filling, sealing and cardboard sleeving.

Some companies may pack their meal kits by hand with mountains of people employed, while others may outsource their packaging process to third parties such as a contract packager. The principal problem with all these options is that the packaging cost will rise significantly over the time and in the long run.

But packaging automation for meal kits is also a challenge. Let’s say, meal kits come in a variety of sizes, and shapes, and with different ingredients. Making all of them adapted to a single set of equipment and machines will be a challenge. On the other hand, the fact that consumers of meal kits prefer convenience and fast delivery makes it necessary as well food processing and manufacturing companies should be flexible and responsive with their production to keep abreast of and stay pace with the trend.

And here is the task of packaging automation companies and machinery manufacturers.

Sleeve packaging of single-serve entrees and meals
Meal kit with different packaging
How do you make them all compatible on a machine?

Smart Automatic Sleeving Machine for Meal Kits

We know that carton sleeve is a sustainable and eco-friendly form of packaging. ELITER Packaging Machinery is here to help with the secondary packaging of your meal kits.

We have introduced to the market our smart automatic sleeving machine to get your business with a reduced packaging cost during the long run and cut out the chronologically increasing labour cost with hand packaging.

Do you need more help?

Get in contact with our experts to discuss about packaging automation for your meal kits by send email to:, or contact by +86 139 588 12103

Ready to cook and ready to eat meals packaging


Contact Us

Zixin Yuan
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Zhiwei Bao
General Manager

ÉLITER Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd
No.1088, Jing Ye Rd, Economic Development Zone, Dong Shan District, Ruian Wenzhou Zhejiang, China 325200
+86 (0577) 6668 2128