Friday, February 10, 2012: 04:08:22 PM


The Right Wrap

Rajneesh Kumar talks about the advantages that come with the right kind of food packaging

For great food, fresh ingredients are vital. Given the diversity and demand of myriad cuisines in India, ingredients have to be harvested overnight, purchased from the markets in the morning and prepared the very same day. Today, there is great emphasis on fresh, organic food. In order to preserve such ingredients, it is paramount to develop excellent packaging techniques. Thus, te quality of painstakingly prepared food cannot be lost because of substandard packaging.

Parcelling it Fresh
Food in India is prone to contamination given the country's sub-tropical weather. Excess moisture could lead to growth of fungus in food while the lack of it can cause food to shrivel up. The right kind of packaging helps in the preservation of food in the state that it should be consumed. For example, to preserve the crunchiness of cookies, they have to be adequately shielded from humidity. The basic aim behind food packaging is to provide a sturdy, food grade, temporary storage for food and beverages. For instance, when guests request eatables to take along on a long journey, the packaging for these should protect the food from contamination and drying up. Also, in order to keep coffee hot for a long time, the cup holding it should be made of such material that it remains warm for up to thirty minutes. Muffins, on the other hand, can be kept moist and fresh with a little help from cling wrap and a paper bag.

Marriott makes use of its packaging to spread awareness about the brand and the commodity that it represents. For instance, in the case of coffee cups, the name of the brew is clearly mentioned on the packaging. This packing is of the highest food grade and is also bio-degradable. Thus, from a simple take-away request, the brand is given a voice while being environmentally responsible.

Food packaging serves a visual and qualitative purpose. Apart from providing a sturdy and hygienic function, it also adds to the visual appeal and brand recall. Packaging provides an insight to the product it represents and sets a benchmark of expectation from the consumer. It also helps the brand as on-lookers recognise the brand. It is, therefore, imperative to business that packaging stands out while subtly blending in. In order to match a takeaway order from the menu, a restaurant has to e armed with the right kind of food packaging. or example, a take-away for a Thai Green Curry requires a thick bottomed, food grade, disposable container that is non-toxic and green at the same time. Thus, it is important to be adequately stocked with the right kind of packaging at all times.

Unwrapping Marriott
The Courtyard by Marriot Gurgaon, is strategically located 30 minutes away from the New Delhi Airport. It offers an array of exclusive dining options and world-class amenities, and promotes itself as an ideal choice for business and leisure travellers. Its location provides easy access to key tourist attractions of New Delhi and makes it an ideal base for tourists in the entire 'golden triangle' of Agra and Jaipur. For the epicureans, the Courtyard by Marriot Gurgaon offers a variety of dinning options. These include MoMo Cafe, an all day dining restaurant; MoMo2 Go, a bakery and quick bites retail outlet; Red Zen, a specialty Pan Asian noodle restaurant and Bar Zen, a chic contemporary bar.

Picking a Packet
Breads—both of the Indian and Continental variety—often become dry and stale rather quickly. Thus, they can be wrapped in foil or cling-film before being packed in paper bags to delay dryness. On the other hand, foil for packaging is also used in case of fried products that turn soggy quickly. Since Courtyard by Marriott has a strict ‘green’ commitment to the environment, plastics are strictly not used and all packets are made with wood-free material. Bento boxes are used to pack pastries, gateaux and desserts from the restaurants and these boxes are designed in such a way that the cream-based desserts do not melt or that the material does not drip of the sugary icing.

Technology plays a major role in food packaging. For instance, the vacuuming machine that is used in several international hotels helps to create a vacuum in the packets. This brings the properties of a thermos in the package and enables storage for long journeys while maintaining the temperature. Since the product does not come in contact with air, it remains free of all contamination.

Speaking of the cost of packaging, most hotels do not levy a charge on the packets that they provide with their take-away foods. Also, most companies do not view cost as the primary parameter to choose a particular kind of packaging. Thus, since quality is paramount, the primary concern is the retention of food texture, its taste, shape and hygiene. In the end, all hotels want their guests to leave with a smile on their face and the flavour of delicious food lingering on.

The author is the F&B Manager, Courtyard, Marriott, Gurgaon

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