Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on November 3rd, 2020

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Packaging Food For Restaurants: HEB Supermarkets Serving Kindness

Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Food Packaging

There have been many industries hit hard by the pandemic. "Non-essential" businesses of many kinds have had to shut down for weeks, sometimes months on end. And while various different types of businesses have taken a hit during 2020, the restaurant industry was hit particularly hard.


Initially, many restaurants were completely shut down. Then various states began staged re-openings across the country. But restrictions and limitations were imposed on the already struggling restaurant industry as it attempted to regain some of the losses that they had accrued.


Once back open, most eateries were limited to lower capacities based upon state laws. Even with re-opening opportunities, many dining institutions saw a dramatic decrease in attendance. And while this situation proved quite challenging for this section of the food industry, it was quite another story for others.


For example, with many former patrons of restaurants choosing to stay home and cook rather than go out for a night on the town, many supermarkets experienced a massive boost to normal business. Necessities such as food and toiletries in particular flew off store shelves at a rapid pace. 


And while pre-made or serve-yourself items such as hot-food or salad bars were shut down, pre-packaged foods, particularly frozen foods, ultimately saw a huge boost in sales. This resulted in many supermarkets having to stock up more than usual in an effort to meet the demands of the supply chain.


And the story was no different when the pandemic met HEB supermarkets. And while the HEB team was more than happy to work hard to meet the rising demand, they took notice of their fellow food industry professionals in the restaurant scene.


And that is when HEB supermarkets stepped up to help out their fellow foodie friends and help them to make ends meet.


In this article, we will explore this wonderful story about people helping people and how a kind gesture was able to help some restaurants to stay afloat while they battle COVID.


A Storied History In The Food Industry


HEB supermarkets are a large chain of supermarkets headquartered in San Antonio with 340 locations scattered throughout Texas and Northern Mexico. From humble beginnings with the opening of their first store in 1905, HEB was born out of necessity when Florence Butt took her $60 of life savings and opened a store front in a small Texas town.


After over 20 years of hard work and dedication, the store grew and moved its headquarters from Kerrville to Harlingen Texas. By 1942 the company opened its first supermarket under the name "HEB" in San Antonio Texas.


Over the next few decades, the company continued to grow and meet impressive financial goals while continuing to expand across Texas with the formation of multiple distribution centers. Then in 1984, they began their food bank program.


HEB Supermarket Food Packaging


The food bank program showed the heart of the HEB community by ensuring that unsold but salvageable foods were donated to food banks across their market areas. Since then, they have delivered millions of pounds of food to local food banks all over Texas.


So, it should come as no surprise that when the pandemic arrived in 2020, HEB once again showed heart and creativity by offering a helping hand for their struggling friends in another sector of the food industry. 


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Packaging Food And Kindness For Local Restaurants


Just like other restaurants across America, many restaurants in Texas were hit extremely hard by the corona-virus pandemic. Months of downtime and then strict capacity restrictions in tandem with other changes in how restaurants could operate put strain on local restaurants.


As HEB continued to see a rise in business in their sector of the food industry, they also noticed the troubles that their counterparts in the restaurant industry were dealing with. Knowing that their fellow foodies were struggling with the complications from COVID, HEB decided to take action.


Food packaging forestaurants


HEB began reaching out to local restaurants near their physical locations and began partnerships with these institutions to help them battle the pandemic. They offered to package meals made by their local restaurateurs and sell the meals in their supermarkets.


Not only that, but they ensured that 100% of the profits from those particular food sales went straight back to the restaurants themselves!


HEB packaged the meals made by the local restaurants in containers such as clamshells, which are a type of carded packaging. The food is then displayed in coolers or other display cases with labels notifying consumers of the name of the restaurant, the meal contained within, heating and serving instructions, and other product details like allergy information.


What started with a program that worked with a couple of local restaurants has grown into a much larger operation. HEB now serves multiple dining institutions with their food being offered in dozens of HEB locations throughout Texas!


As for HEB customers, well, they love it! Many consumers are happily buying up their favorite local dishes from the restaurants that they know and love. Consumers love the ability to take home their favorite meals from food vendors such as Underbelly Hospitality who offer delicious meals like their Spicy Korean Braised Beef and Dumplings.


This gave local restaurants an upper hand in the battle against COVID while giving their patrons the opportunity to enjoy their favorite out-to-eat meal options in the comfort of their own homes.


Food Packaging: A Growing Market Trend


HEB's act of kindness is one of many examples of supermarkets and restaurateur’s growing interest in food packaging. In fact, food packaging is a fast-growing segment in the food industry.


And you know what? These food packaging trends are likely here to stay! Right now, there is a huge opportunity for supermarkets and restaurants alike to formulate programs similar to HEB which can be super profitable for both parties.


If you own a restaurant and are struggling to get meals sold, why not consider packaging your foods and selling them through local supermarkets? Perhaps this is the time to consider getting your meals into the frozen food sections in supermarket chains across the country?


Now, if you are a supermarket, why not consider bringing the packaging process in house? With the proper packaging machinery and materials, you could start a profitable new business venture by working with local restaurants and producing pre-packaged meals on location!


Honestly, the possibilities are endless. And right now, many businesses in the industry are just starting to explore this uncharted territory. With the right packaging partner on your side, you could get ahead of the curve and produce profitable new revenue streams that your competitors have not even considered yet!


Food packaging applications, particularly frozen food and modified atmosphere packaging are two of the top 5 packaging trends to watch in 2021. Many food industry institutions are currently turning their attention to these trends. Those who mobilize now are those who are most likely to get the biggest piece of the pie.



About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.