What a Meat Sommelier Looks for in Packaging
Bratwurst king and book author: Nuremberg-based master butcher Dirk Freyberger has made a name for himself nationally and internationally as an expert in his field. He regularly puts the packaging of his meat and sausage products to the test.
At the “Franconian Bratwurst Summit” in Pegnitz, master butcher Dirk Freyberger was crowned “Bratwurst King 2023” in May. As a meat sommelier, barbecue lecturer, and author, the Nuremberg native is now a sought-after advisor. When it comes to meat and sausage products, he focuses on tradition and modernity. Freyberger also has an enormous amount of knowledge when it comes to marketing and packaging. After all, the Franconian not only runs a traditional family business, but also an online store and has a large fan community thanks to his networks. At Freyberger, every product, every package is “branded.” The trademark of the Freyberger butchery – the bull and the color pink – must not be missing from any paper bag, glass container, or sausage can. “Our customers know they bought their meat from us. But its all about the signals to guests and strangers,” he explains.
“A lot has happened in recent years when it comes to packaging for meat and sausage products. It used to be about protecting the product. For some time now, sustainability has played an increasingly important role. It is now a question of combining both: product protection and eco-friendliness,” says Freyberger.
In general, according to his experience, one has to “keep trying things out” with packaging until it fits. He has made many a mistake. Packaging that is impractical for the consumer is the end of a product in the long run, he says. “Packaging is not a simple issue in any respect,” he says, giving an example. He had switched the packaging for his homemade meat salad to high-quality reusable containers, even though it cost him more. However, he says, customers were bothered by the “thick-walled cups.” “Our customers preferred the light cups. They didn’t feel that the reusable containers were more sustainable. So, we backpedaled. I now charge extra for disposable containers. But reusable will become the standard in the long term,” he explains. However, he says, his experience is that deposit systems are troublesome in practice. “There must be clear definitions for closed-loop systems. Because hygiene is a very important aspect for our goods. There are different cleaning systems for reusable containers, which I find difficult.”
As Little Plastic as Possible
Freyberger uses plastic as little as possible as a packaging material. Solid carton with insulated cardboard is the standard packaging for the Freyberger butchery’s e-commerce. Its insulating paper is made of recycled plastic, he says. Freyberger says packaging costs have increased by 50 percent in the past two years, “even though we use about the same amount and the same quality of packaging.” One reason, he says, is the increased price of paper. He says he knows that on the one hand, customers want to buy sustainable products, but on the other hand, they are not willing to pay steadily more for them. For the mince bag made from foil, for example, he has not found an alternative option that is affordable.
Another challenge for any meat delivery, he says, is refrigeration, because transport from the cold storage to the doorstep can take twelve to a maximum of 48 hours. If the transport starts at around zero degrees, the cool delivery works perfectly, he says. Many products, such as ham or cold cuts, have a certain amount of moisture, the surface of which could become too dry when stored in the refrigerator without protection. “It just doesn’t look as nice in that case. The consumer would mistakenly throw away the food too soon,” the expert explains.
With packaging materials from Easy2cool, he says he can guarantee sustainable shipping packaging, and for transport he uses DHL’s Go Green Plus service, which offers CO2 neutral transport.
Dirk Freyberger learned the trade from scratch and, together with his brother Sven, is already the third generation to run the Freyberger butcher’s shop in Nuremberg, which has existed since 1958. The dedicated master butcher is a meat sommelier, book author ("SonntagsBBQ”) and 1st chairman of Fleischsommelier Deutschland e. V., as well as a certified Grillmeister Masterclass and team captain of the Butcher Wolfpack, which was able to bring a butcher world championship title to Germany for the first time in 2022. The father of three prefers to spend his free time with his family and friends – and “an awesome barbecue.”