Hungarian consumers with an eye on their well-being are benefiting from a new range of tasty ready meals – thanks to clever packaging and the convenience of an innovative sales channel.
With no alternatives on the market, manufacturer Pure Food has achieved a market first by offering a unique convenience food concept to a health savvy-generation in Hungary and its central European neighbours.
Based at Ászár, 100 km to the west of Budapest, the company’s new range of complete meals is tailored to the nutritional needs of sports and health-conscious customers. It is taking the market by storm by selling direct to customers in gyms and sports centres from vending refrigerators and sales points.
It is the brainchild of Pure Food’s founder Gergely Lunk, who set out to develop a range of ready meals that use 100% natural ingredients and are packed with flavour. By working with local suppliers to source fresh, seasonal ingredients and by using carefully blended spices, Pure Food has created a range of meals with no preservatives, no additives, no artificial colours and with reduced fat and salt content.
Gergely Lunk explained that the decision to create Pure Food came about as a result of being unable to find time-saving, ready meals that satisfied his expectations in terms of both flavour and nutritional value.
“I am an active and health conscious person,” he said. “I try to prepare my own food daily that meets my needs in terms of quality and fits with my approach to well-being.
“But sometimes I want something convenient that ticks the right boxes and I just couldn’t find anything in the market – despite the emergence of a much more health-conscious generation in Hungary and its neighbours. So, I thought, if I can’t buy it, let’s produce it – and the journey began.
“I was also conscious that my market was going to be busy people who wanted to be able to pick up simple, healthy meals online or where they spend time such as in gyms, rather than having to detour to the supermarket for a quick meal.”
From the outset, Gergely was keen to deliver a quality product with the packaging to match, not only to present attractively but also to optimise shelf life. Having identified them as a preferred supplier, he worked with the Sealed Air team to specify the right solution.
“We wanted to maintain the quality of the ready-meal, in terms of flavour and texture, while still providing total convenience,” he said. “In particular we needed to identify a packaging material that was pasteurisable yet ensured the pack appearance was excellent after pasteurisation.
“Sealed Air went out of their way to find the right solution for us and we selected Cryovac® Simple Steps®. There were several benefits: the Simple Steps packaging allows the pasteurisation temperature to be lowered by 10% and the timing by 45%. This helps to preserve the colour, flavour and nutritional content. It also offers time and cost savings during manufacturing.
“The high barrier film is the key to achieving the crucial 30-day shelf life which is a huge benefit for customers buying in advance for the week. It also makes the in-gym sales channel a viable innovation and reduces food waste for the consumer and the sales outlet.
“The pack also creates a ‘perfect skin effect’ which enhances the visual appeal of each meal. It not only stays fresh looking for longer, it’s vital to ensure food safety where a selling point is no preservatives.”
To enable Pure Food quickly to build production capacity, Sealed Air also introduced a partner who was able to make available the correct equipment at short notice – speeding the process of getting the new product to market.
“Sealed Air’s knowledge and experience have really helped us to develop the concept,” said Gergely Lunk. “The team was very supportive and even introduced a local producer who’s become a strong partner.
“Without Cryovac® Simple Steps, this project would never have come to fruition. Packaging was so important to us in terms of presentation, shelf-life and food quality, but it has also had a significant benefit in terms of sustainability.
“By working with local suppliers, it supports the local economy and reduces distribution costs. Simple Steps itself lowers energy consumption by reducing the packaging time and the temperature during the pasteurising process. It also helps to optimise space both in the in-gym coolers and during distribution, which lowers energy use.”
Gergely Lunk concludes, “The partnership with Sealed Air has proved to be a fruitful collaboration and we really appreciate the value they’ve brought to our business.”