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Does your restaurant need deli bowls?

According to the Wall Street Journal, 33% of full-service orders were to-go in 2022. Beyond this, restaurant owners around the world can expect up to 2.64 billion users of online food delivery services by 2027. 

To succeed in such a competitive market, restaurant owners and food vendors need to invest in takeaway packaging that is suited to the meals they serve. These may include items such as kraftware burger boxes, bagasse leak-proof containers, and compostable deli bowls. 

Deli bowls are often an essential form of packaging for many restaurants that offer takeaway delivery. Available in quart, half-pint and full-pint sizes, these round bowls come with a tight-fitting lid that prevents leaks and spills. 

But what are deli bowls used for? And does your restaurant need to invest in them? 

Understanding the role of deli bowls in the food industry

In a traditional restaurant, chefs often use steel deli cups during meal preparation. They’re often used to store chopped ingredients, measurements of liquids, and more. 

Within the takeaway food industry, deli bowls are highly versatile and are often used to store and deliver many types of food. These range from salads and soups to curries and pasta, rendering them a popular container choice for several restaurants. 

Traditionally, deli bowls have been made of polypropylene: the second-most widely produced plastic after polyethylene, the material used to make plastic bags. It is important to note that polypropylene falls into the category of sustainable plastics, as it is recyclable. 

This material can be separated from other plastic types, melted into a liquid, cooled, and turned into pellets. These pellets are then used to form new plastics. However, polypropylene loses its strength and flexibility as it goes through the recycling process. 

Notably, polypropylene does not contain any heavy metals or plasticisers and uses relatively little energy in its production process compared with other plastics. Additionally, it has a relatively low melting point, and it uses no water in the manufacturing process. What’s more, there are no harmful emissions during the production of polypropylene and all production waste from polypropylene can be recycled.

Polypropylene is also resistant to water and most oils and greases. Beyond this, it is an extremely hard-wearing material, making it last longer than similar materials such as PVC, acetate, or cellulose.

In recent years, more sustainable materials, such as polylactic acid (PLA), have been used to make deli bowls. PLA is made from the fermentation of carbohydrates from renewable resources such as maize, cornstarch, and sugarcane. The fermentation produces resin filaments that have similar characteristics to petroleum-based plastic. 

The filaments can be shaped, moulded, and coloured to suit a range of needs. They can also undergo simultaneous extrusion to form a multilayered or shrink-wrapped film. One of the principal benefits of PLA is that it is significantly more eco-friendly than its petroleum-based counterpart. While the manufacture of conventional plastic is estimated to use as much as 200,000 barrels of oil a day in the US alone, PLA is made from renewable and compostable sources. 

Deli bowls made from PLA have the same desirable characteristics as polypropylene bowls. They are stackable, leakproof, resistant to grease, oil, and high temperatures, and they’re fridge-friendly. 

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Do you need to invest in deli bowls? 

Deli bowls are an essential part of an efficient takeout offering for two primary reasons. First, they are liquid and leak-resistant, helping reduce the risk of spills during transport. Having a meal arrive in pristine condition ensures customer satisfaction and encourages repeat purchases.

Restaurants that can fulfil orders that meet customers’ expectations are more likely to receive repeat orders and positive online reviews.

Second, several customers tend to keep deli bowls and reuse them as storage containers. They’re incredibly versatile: they’re available in different shapes and sizes and can be washed after use. This makes deli bowls a useful product for people who want to save money and reduce waste. 

Another benefit to deli bowls is that they can be made from clear and transparent materials. This means chefs and kitchen staff can see what is stored inside for quick reference – an essential part of food service. It also helps staff easily identify the condiments, such as sauces and other ingredient add-ons, that go with orders. 

More so, deli bowls are inexpensive – highly beneficial for businesses looking to reduce overall costs. Deli bowls can often be purchased at a low cost, particularly when ordered in bulk. 

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What sustainable alternatives are there? 

While the majority of deli bowls are now made using sustainable plastics, some businesses may want to eliminate plastics. Fortunately, there are several other eco-friendly alternatives, such as those made from compostable materials. 

The materials include corrugated paper, bamboo fibre, and food-grade poly paper. 

In recent years, corrugated paper packaging has grown in popularity as it is durable, eco-friendly, and versatile. Deli bowls made from this material are often thicker to ensure durability and quality. More so, they include a PLA lining to create a liquid and heat-resistant barrier, making them suitable for the short-term storage of hot sauces and soups.

These durable and heat-resistant containers not only ensure hot and cold meals are secure during the journey from kitchen to consumer but also retain all the dish’s unique flavours. 

Compostable deli bowls are a great environmentally friendly option for restaurants and eateries, as they’re made from materials that break down within 90 days of disposal in a commercial composting facility. Additionally, compostable deli bowls are specifically designed to keep dishes intact during transport while also being environmentally responsible.

Alternatively, biodegradable deli bowls are also a popular eco-conscious choice for restaurants and delicatessens. Specifically crafted for cold foods and sauces, these bowls epitomise environmental responsibility, as they’re made using renewable and sustainable resources such as corn starch. By investing in sustainable deli bowls, restaurant owners and food vendors can rest assured that their customers’ orders will always arrive as fresh and delicious as when they were made. 

The way in which your food is delivered will say a lot about your brand and the way you conduct business. Deli bowls can help kitchen staff pack orders for delivery in an efficient and hygienic manner. In turn, this can help ensure complete customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.