Demand from UK supermarkets for consumer-friendly poultry packs that are leak-proof and protect against food poisoning is driving an unprecedented move to modified atmosphere packaging.

Vacuum technology specialist Busch reports sales of £750 000 worth of vacuum equipment to poultry producers in the past three months. The company works with tray sealing machinery manufacturers: Multivac, Mondini, Resier, VC999 and Sealpac.

Since October, Busch has supplied major UK poultry producers the Grampian Group, the Faccenda Group and Sun Valley. GW Padley is next in line. Busch had not previously received requests for MAP in the poultry sector said UK sales manager Mark Taylor.

“The MAP poultry phenomenon appears to be exclusive to the UK,” added Mr Taylor. “Sun Valley has not yet converted its poultry packing operation in France, but I think this trend is likely to spread to mainland Europe.”

Andrew Dooley, group purchasing manager at the Faccenda Group, confirmed that MAP is now being used for all poultry portion packs, but that whole chickens will not be MAP packed for the foreseeable future until a suitable solution has been found.

Sainsbury is about to test a machinery solution for MAP packing whole chickens which, with their awkward shape, have presented sealing difficulties, reveals Sainsbury packaging technologist Terry Robins.