Prosciutto di Parma Makes Advances Towards Sustainable Packaging

In a bold effort to minimise the environmental impact of its members’ production activities, Prosciutto di Parma has undertaken extensive research to identify more sustainable alternatives to the traditional packaging of pre-sliced products. 

As consumer demand for Parma Ham surged during the pandemic, sales of these renowned packs have witnessed exceptional growth, signalling the need for a sustainable approach. Acknowledging the significant role that Parma Ham plays in the social and economic resilience of the Province of Parma, the consortium now aims to bolster its environmental sustainability and embrace the principles of a circular economy

To achieve this objective, the Consortium collaborated closely with the Experimental Station for the Parma Food Conservation Industry (SSICA) to conduct in-depth research and testing of alternative and more sustainable packaging materials. The research team sought to explore materials that not only ensured the preservation of the ham’s quality but also contributed to the overall sustainability of the production process.

Various materials were tested in shelf-life trials, including paper, recyclable PET, and compostable bioplastics. The choice of these materials was driven by the Consortium’s commitment to sourcing renewable raw materials that are environmentally sustainable and fostering waste recovery and reuse after consumption. Different packaging combinations utilising the selected materials were then subjected to testing in a protective atmosphere, alongside Parma Hams from different producers and maturation periods, ranging from 16 to 20 months.

Among the materials tested, the PET tray demonstrated suitability for transparent packaging, albeit with a shorter shelf-life compared to paper. This finding paves the way for sales in transparent packaging, providing consumers with a visually appealing experience while maintaining the ham’s quality and freshness. 

On the other hand, packages made from compostable bioplastics exhibited a shorter shelf-life, making them ideal for a ‘take away’ sales formula, enabling convenient consumption while minimising environmental impact.

The introduction of these sustainable packaging materials marks a significant step forward in Prosciutto di Parma’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint. By embracing renewable and recyclable materials, the Consortium aims to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the Parma Ham industry. This endeavour not only contributes to the protection of the environment but also aligns with changing consumer preferences for eco-conscious products.

The success of Parma Ham, both domestically and internationally, reflects its enduring appeal and quality. As the president of the Consortium stated, the aim now is to build upon this success by integrating sustainable practices into every aspect of the production and packaging processes. Through this initiative, Prosciutto di Parma demonstrates its dedication to preserving the heritage and reputation of this beloved delicacy while upholding its responsibility towards the environment.

In conclusion, Prosciutto di Parma’s research collaboration with SSICA has yielded promising results in identifying more sustainable packaging materials for pre-sliced Parma Ham. The use of recyclable PET and compostable bioplastics provides options for transparent packaging and ‘take away’ sales, respectively, without compromising product quality. 

By pursuing these sustainable alternatives, the Consortium is committed to minimising environmental impact and contributing to a circular economy. This landmark achievement not only underscores the resilience of the province of Parma but also sets a positive example for the food industry as a whole. Prosciutto di Parma’s dedication to environmental sustainability ensures that consumers can savour their favourite Parma Ham with a sense of pride, knowing that every bite contributes to a greener future.

News Credits: Parma Ham Consortium identifies alternative materials for pre-sliced packs

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