The Coronavirus Pandemic seems determined to stick around in one form or another for much longer than any of us originally thought. As a result, the restaurant industry has had to embrace all forms of takeout and delivery options just to survive.
As of this writing, we are during yet another ‘no dine-in’ lockdown. Take-out, delivery, and home-meal replacement options have never been more important, nor more popular. The pandemic has fueled the skyrocketing home delivery business via apps like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes (love the commercials) and DoorDash. Whatever means of getting the food out the door and into customers mouths that restaurant owners are utilizing, it means lots and lots of takeout containers.
The old standby Styrofoam container has come a long, long way to meet the demand for more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly alternatives to choose from.
Today there are many varieties of shapes, sizes, and materials available. But which ones are right for you?
Depends on the food itself and your own priorities. If cost is your only criterion, then there are many cheap choices. If the environment and the desire to get the food to the customer in as best condition as possible are major factors, then a little research and a few pennies more are necessary.
Yes, we know, they are not exactly great for our environment, but they do remain ideal for hot liquids like soup and coffee because they do not leak, they are microwaveable and they make a great insulator from its hot contents, so you can handle them comfortably. Perhaps their most attractive quality is the low cost. However, foam containers do not breathe, which means hot food effectively gets steamed to death and will get soggy quickly. And did we mention their negative impact on our planet…
PAPER (Cardboard & Paperboard)
Paper containers can also be microwaved with no negative effects on the food or the container. It is suitable for a much wider range of foods than foam. Paper is also ideal for the environment, being biodegradable. However, like foam, they can result in soggy food due to its moisture retention qualities. They can also be hot to the touch. This can be avoided by a practice commonly used by Chinese takeout - put the paper containers in a paper bag.
This category is the most complex to analyze because of its constantly evolving technology. Today’s market offers an endless choice of microwaveable, eco-friendly, cost effective and highly efficient products. Plastic takeout containers are suitable for all kinds of hot, cold, wet, and dry products. Some are microwaveable, many are not. They also cover the entire range of safe to unsafe. If you wish to research which plastics are safe and which ones are not, visit the ‘Plastic’ section of this website: https://www.lionsdeal.com/blog/choosing-right-takeout-containers-restaurant/
BEST FOR HOT FOODS
Whether it be paper or plastic, the best takeout containers for keeping food hot and crisp are those with ventilation - be they vents in key locations or hi-tech ventilation channels or both.
Let us not pretend that everyone’s priority is “cheapest is best”. Many business owners today believe that if they, as well as others, do just a bit to help the planet they live on, then it could make a big difference in the long run. And your choice is slowly becoming mandated as more and more municipalities are restricting the use of certain plastics. As such, the eco-friendly category has become an affordable and rapidly growing area of the takeout container industry.
They use a variety of materials such as compostable sugarcane fiber, biodegradable and compostable molded fiber, and natural plant material like corn based Ingeo natural plastic. Drastic reduction of plastic content is also being achieved with the use of certain minerals and plant-based starches.
Caring about the environment has become an affordable and efficient alternative to the standard foam, paper, and plastic.