How United Supermarkets Saved Time, Money, and Labor with Inno-Pak
Rotisserie Chicken Domes: Too Big, Too Expensive, Too Time Consuming
United Supermarkets had concerns with its rotisserie chicken domes—storage, cost, and ease of use.
They had to spread out several of their dome bases across the counter, place cooked chickens in the bases, put a lid on the domes, match the chicken to a sleeve that told customers about the chicken, and place the sleeve over the dome. The domes also took up a lot of space in their backrooms.
“Storage was a big issue, and we know how limited storage space is in most stores,” said Rick Clark, the director of food service for United Supermarkets. “The lids were difficult to pop on and you had a sleeve that you had to put over them as well.”
Rick said their stores used custom sleeves that told customers which flavor of chicken was inside the dome—BBQ, Herb, Lemon Pepper, Simply Seasoned, Southwest, and Mango Habanero. Each chicken had to be matched to its sleeve, which fit over the domes.
It was an operation that cost them time, money, and space.
Rotisserie Chicken Bags: Less Space, Less Waste, Less Laborious
But when United Supermarkets switched from domes to Inno-Pak’s Rotisserie & Fried Chicken Bags, they saw reductions in all three of those. The company wound up with a packaging solution that proved more affordable, used less storage space, and was labor-efficient.
According to a life cycle assessment conducted by Trayak, the bags have less of an environmental impact than domes do. Compared to domes, they:
- Reduce plastic weight by 86 percent
- Require 79 percent fewer pallets on trucks
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent
- Impact the environment less when discarded
As for labor-savings, the bags are quicker and easier to deploy. Employees put the chickens on a holding tray and then into a bag that matches the flavor of the chicken.
Inno-Pak uses a patented, header system with its Rotisserie and Fried Chicken Bags. There are 25 bags per header, which in turn goes on a rack. The racks use suction cups to stick to counters and provide stability for workers. Each rack has a hook on the front that hooks to the front of the bag, holding it open. With the bag held open, it’s easy to load the rotisserie chicken, and Inno-Pak’s closing tool zips the bag shut every time.
Getting Results with Inno-Pak’s Rotisserie & Fried Chicken Bags
United Supermarkets used Inno-Pak’s Custom Print Program to have a bag made for each flavor of their chickens, eliminating the need for sleeves entirely. Rick said it now takes half as much time to set up the rotisserie chicken bags as it did the domes.
“The cost savings were pretty substantial for us,” said Rick. “They’re also quick and easy to package, and everything’s already printed on the bag—you just have to circle the time on the bag.”
Rick also found unexpected energy savings and reduced wear and tear on their holding equipment. The bags sit flatter on the heating units’ shelves and absorb less heat than domes do, so United Supermarkets reduced the temperature settings on their holding equipment by 10 to 15 degrees while still keeping chickens at a hot, safe temperature.
For their part, customers have been receptive to the switch, according to Rick.
“Of the 91 stores that we’ve changed, we’ve had very, very few complaints,” Rick said. “If something doesn’t look good, it’s not going to sell, and sometimes it’s the packaging that causes that.”
“Our sales, customer perceptions, are doing well,” Rick said. “It’s been a good change for us.”
United Supermarkets first opened its doors in 1916 when the first United Cash Store was established in Sayre, Oklahoma. Today, United Supermarkets is a Texas-based grocery chain with stores in 53 communities in Texas and New Mexico and is part of The United Family®. The United Family® operates 95 stores under five unique banners—United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos, Albertsons Market, and United Express.