Playing Tetris: Putting menu items in a meal box is an art in itself

The standard meal box, which fits perfectly into the drawers of a trolley used in aircraft, is 15,3 cm long, 8,3 cm wide and 5,3 cm high. But the ideal fit is not the only criteria for these packaged-meal solutions, they also have to be easy to handle for the service crew. Therefore, it is crucial that they are efficiently packed in the first place. We at Evertaste like to play Tetris. This means that we develop the box and then select the items in the right size so that they all fit inside and look attractive to the customer, i. e. the traveler. But how do you place all requested items into the box and what do you need to consider?

Natalja Cvetkova, General Manager at Evertaste

Natalja Cvetkova, General Manager UK at Evertaste

Overstuffed boxes are not attractive and don’t look professional. A lid not locked and sealed properly is not an option for us, neither is a box that does not keep its shape. We spend quite some time together with our co-packing partners to find the right configuration in a box and prepare for all eventualities. If you, for example, have two biscuits in a pack, they may fall into weird positions when they are packed. If you use plastic foil as a packing material, this might also change the behavior of a product item. Some may have more air in them, blow up or remain flat.

The individual shape of fresh products plays a big role
When we add fresh items to a box, such as a bread roll, we also need to consider that no two rolls have the same shape. So, even if they weight the same they may have different space requirements. It may be that one bun is bigger and the other one higher. If you add a frozen sandwich you need to make sure that the spread does not seep out the edge of the bread.
Delicate products like soft cheese can’t be pressed into a box because any small puncture will allow air to penetrate the product and affect its quality.
Also, as mentioned above, locking and sealing needs to be precisely executed coupled with the required labelling. This is regulated by law and needs to follow certain parameters at all times.

Consumers need to easily see and identify the individual items
So, we usually play Tetris with up to 9 items in one snack box and up to 50 in a drawer. Cutlery and a napkin also need to be added. The items have to be sorted into the box in a way that it makes optimal use of the available space while allowing the consumer to easily see and identify the individual items. It sounds so easy to put items in a snack box, but it is an art in itself. I guess that next time you order a box you will look at it differently. Open it up and enjoy!

Kind regards
Natalja Cvetkova
General UK Manager at Evertaste