Supermarket Perimeter - April 2021 - 70

PORTION
CONTROL

by Andy Nelson

MORE AND MORE, grocery
stores are turning to
commissaries, central kitchens
and other offsite facilities to meet
their needs for prepared foods
and other foods sold in the fresh
perimeter, said Terry Neithercut,
business development manager
for Delta, B.C.-based Unifiller
Systems Inc.
Unifiller works with retailers
closely to upgrade any
equipment that has been
supplied at the store level so it
can work at the commissary
level, she added.
" Our solutions are modular
and easy to 'step up' automation
for larger volumes. Unifiller's
goal is to fully understand the
needs of our customers-run
sizes, volumes, particulates, etc.
-to make sure that the solution
provided fits the business. "
Popular solutions from Unifiller
for commissaries include the
company's Universal 1000i,
Universal 2000i, Low Level Kettle
Direct, Transfer Pumps and other

Unifiller
equipment is
versatile enough
to be shared
by different
departments.

70 - APRIL 2021

units. And while commissary
customers often don't share
equipment between bakery and
food production, due to layout
issues, Unifiller equipment is
versatile enough that it can be
shared by different departments,
Neithercut said.
Unifiller equipment is used
extensively for portioning deli
items in both commissaries and
fresh perimeter departments,
Neithercut said. The company's
solutions focus on flowable
products: soups, chili, salsa, dips,
hummus, and sandwich fillings
like egg salad and potato salad.
Most fresh departments, she
added, need a depositor that's
versatile (equipped, for example,
with change attachments
to handle a wide variety of
products) and easy to sanitize
and switch over, since products
are usually shelf-dated and
produced in small runs.
Unifiller is constantly
tweaking its lineup, Neithercut
said. Recently, for example,

the company developed a
spray nozzle that's perfect for
portioning or spraying thin layers
of pizza sauce, mayonnaise and
other products.
Solutions like those provided
by Unifiller are increasingly
important to supermarkets and
commissaries for many reasons,
including accurate portion
control and the ability to do more
with less staff, Neithercut said.
" Many of our customers report
that it is difficult to attract and
retain staff for simple tasks like
portioning, " she said.

Packaging's role
In addition to depositor
technology, packaging plays a
huge role in portion control in
the commissary/central kitchen
and other retail food channels.
Market demand for portion
control, for instance, has driven
the product development team
at Shelton, Conn.-based Inline
Plastics to design products to
accommodate the growing
need for single serve and
pre-packaged snack and meal
options, said Cindy Blish, the
company's associated brand and
communications manager.
" The trend of practicing
portion control has been
changing over the last several
years and even more so since
the onset of the pandemic, " Blish
said. " The snacking industry has
been witnessing a significant
increase in demand with most
demographics. We see younger
shoppers, mainly millennials, who
tend to consume smaller meals
during the day and snacking
frequently and sometimes
snacking replaces or even
becomes the meal. "
During the pandemic, the
numbers also show an increase
in those indulging in sweet
snacks, Blish added, which
increases the need for smaller

supermarketperimeter.com

size, grab n' go, portion control
type of packaging.
With pre- and post-pandemic
trends evolving, Inline has
significantly broadened its
offerings of single-serve
packaging and containers with
multiple compartments. Multicell packaging gives retailers the
flexibility to offer different food
combinations that ultimately
become pre-packaged meals.
In addition, Inline's line
of tamper-evident, tamperresistant packaging, Safe-TFresh, has added the Snackers
and SnackWare lines of grab
and go multi-cell products.
With these options, it's easier
for commissaries or retailers
to package a sandwich wrap
paired with sliced apples or other
complimentary foods, Blish said.
To help both processors and
retailers preparing grab-and-go
salads with different assortments,
Inline just added new " Flip n
Mix " tray inserts with two and
three compartments to hold
various toppings and dressings
that are designed to sit within
Inline's tamper-evident rectangle
containers. These inserts add a
new dimension to consumers'
choices in the same package,
Blish said.
The biggest drivers today
behind the movement toward
portion-control-focused
packaging include the growing
need for more grab and go
options as well as the huge
increase in take-out orders and
deliveries, Blish said. During
transport, it's vitally important
that the packaging is able to
maintain the integrity of the
contents.
" The tamper-evident
characteristics have been among
the key criteria and top of mind
for both retailers and consumers
alike when choosing foods and
food packaging, " Blish said.

UNIFILLER

EQUIPMENT


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Supermarket Perimeter - April 2021

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