In the US, over 94% of raw chicken is sold to consumers via retail channels in packaging designed to extend freshness, enhance marketing appeal and reduce food safety concerns--in China, less than 5% of fresh poultry is sold packaged.

In new groundbreaking research, Sealed Air partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and China Chain Store & Franchise Association (CCFA) to collect and report how China compares with other regions, such as the US.

According to Erin Simon, Deputy Director of Sustainability R&D at WWF, “as a conservation organization, we understand how much goes into growing each chicken—including feed, land, water, and energy. Any amount of loss means increased demands on already stressed environmental resources. We’re working with Sealed Air and CCFA to decrease this loss by identifying best practices for processing, packaging, and retail distribution.”

In China, poultry is a fast growing source of protein for many consumers, and China is expected to become the world’s leading producer of poultry within the next ten years to meet their growing internal consumer demand.  

  • Nearly 80% of production currently comes from small farms and only about 15% of that supply is sold through large grocers
  • Across the retail channel in China, 80% of poultry is sold fresh and unpackaged

Given recent headlines on the impact of food waste, avian flu outbreaks and increased food demand, the WWF-Sealed Air study is focusing on balancing the rapidly increasing human needs for access to safe, nutritious food while preserving ecosystems and conserving natural resources.  The study is very timely and provides critical input needed to develop both innovative packaging that can reach China’s growing consumer base with fresh, healthy poultry products and insight into how to educate the growing Chinese populace on choosing and storing such items. 

Christophe Gottar, Executive Director, Global Poultry for Sealed Air, presented initial results at the recent International Poultry Council meeting in Xi’an, China.  Gottar commented "we have gained very useful insights from our work thus far and interest is high from both Chinese and international companies.  Next steps for the project are to validate with retail partners to demonstrate the improvements in quality and safety that can be achieved through production cleaning processes, hygienic packaging solutions, and stricter control over cold chain temperatures.”  

Initial results of retail store surveys indicate:

  • 83% of store managers see food safety and cross contamination as potential concerns
  • Over 90% acknowledge in-store losses of unpackaged products

Consumer survey results indicate there is currently concern over safety and quality of packaged fresh poultry, but younger consumers see benefits from longer shelf life of packaged products that can reduce food waste. A life cycle assessment is nearing completion that will highlight the environmental benefits of new packaging options.  Continued consumer engagement is planned to address concerns over taste and safety, while addressing brand trust.

Earlier this year, WWF announced this partnership program with Sealed Air. I am personally excited by this program and our partnership with WWF and CCFA.  It promises to accelerate access to nutritious food in the region through enhanced food safety and decreased food waste.  It is a prime example of our commitment to create a better way for life.

Get more information on our sustainability work with customers and communities, and our 2020 Sustainability Goals.