In today's fast-paced world, consumers increasingly rely on the convenience and home-cooked taste of ready-made meals found in supermarket deli sections. Among these, fried chicken is emerging as a favorite, not just in eateries but also in retail environments. As highlighted in AyrKing Corp.'s report, "The Fried Chicken Factor: A Meal on the Rise," this trend is marked by a growing preference for convenience, consistent taste, freshness, and minimal processing in retail-bought fried chicken.
Recognizing a gap in meeting these consumer demands, Kroger, in partnership with its fried chicken supplier, Home Chef, identified a need for significant improvements in their fried chicken offering in the spring of 2023. Home Chef's internal research indicated that their Fried Chicken & Tenders, available across Kroger Family Stores, were lacking in crispiness and flavor compared to other leading retail and QSR chicken options. This insight led to a collaborative six-month project between Home Chef and innovative packaging experts, aiming to elevate the quality and appeal of their fried chicken.
Kroger and Home Chef embarked on a culinary transformation to enhance their fried chicken's appeal. The recipe underwent a revamp, incorporating a double breading process for each chicken piece, using a blend of tapioca and potato starch to boost the crunch factor. Additionally, a mix of 10 different spices was infused into the breading, ensuring every bite was seasoned to perfection. While these recipe tweaks promised a crunchier texture, packaging innovations were crucial to maintain this crispiness.
Jason Broadrick, Kroger's category manager, highlighted the limitations of the previous all-plastic clamshell packaging. Its lack of ventilation led to trapped condensation, resulting in a loss of the chicken's crispy texture. Addressing this, the R&D team experimented with various packaging solutions, including modified versions of the original design with added ventilation.
The breakthrough came with the introduction of a paper-based package, which excelled in preserving the chicken's crunchy texture. This new design, a paperboard gable box with a handle, features strategically placed ventilation holes on its side panels. These holes allow steam to escape, maintaining the chicken's crunchiness. The box is further enhanced with an aqueous coating for structural integrity and a wax paper lining for grease resistance. Additionally, a window with an anti-fog coating provides a clear view of the product, adding to the consumer's appeal.
Want to customize your tube or box packaging solution? Leave your needs below and our experts will contact you soon!