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Jul 31


Mythbuster: Why packaging from meal kits is much less than you think

Shipping perishable food is very complex and requires appropriate and compliant packaging at every step of the value chain. However, because at HelloFresh we operate a demand-driven supply chain, directly connecting food producers and customers without all the intermediaries you typically find in traditional grocery supply chains, we are able to fundamentally decrease the amount of packaging needed. 

This sometimes might seem counterintuitive and we receive a lot of comments from customers asking about the amount of our packaging. We are actually quite advanced when it comes to reducing packaging and implementing new packaging solutions. 

If you take a look at our entire value chain - from food producer, to HelloFresh distribution centers, to the customer - you will see that a large portion of our packaging lands right in our customer’s homes. But that’s pretty much all. If you follow the recycling instructions on your box, we can minimize packaging waste (over 90% of our packaging is recyclable or compostable!) together like no one else can.  

We source our ingredients directly from farmers and producers, minimizing transport and waste and we avoid lots of packaging and repackaging of food along the way. This is a huge advantage over traditional grocery retail. Traditional grocers have a fundamentally different supply chain, with a lot more intermediate steps, each of them requiring additional packaging that is not visible to the customer since it is disposed at different locations, which means - it’s hidden from the customer’s eyes. 

These supply chains are significantly longer than ours and include multiple extra steps such as wholesalers or regional and national distribution centers. 

While we have an inherent advantage, we are still working very hard on getting rid of excess packaging wherever we can. In fact, we are operating two packaging innovation centers in which dedicated teams are working on developing state of the art packaging solutions and making existing packaging more recyclable.

Let’s take a look at the German market where we recently introduced a new cooling-system in our boxes.

Our new cooling system has already helped us reduce in-box weight of plastic by over 50%. The new cooling pouches (the ones that contain ingredients that need to be cooled) are now paper-based from 100% recycled materials and 100% recyclable, instead of plastic. We developed this innovation together with the University of Lund and invested two years of refining and testing until we had the perfect solution. 

This short video (if you speak German) explains a little more about the packaging initiatives we are working on, specifically in the German market. 

There are more initiatives that we are currently working on: 

  • In the US we are working closely with ClimaCell for new liners in our boxes, making our boxes curbside recyclable

  • In the UK we've saved over 30% of paper in the past year, by reducing the weight of our recipe cards

  • We’ve stopped using black plastics and substituted them with a recyclable solution

  • Our ice packs are produced in a PE thermoforming process and filled with water instead of gel. They keep our ingredients cool up to 48 hours

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