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Understanding ground beef packaging

In looking at the ground beef section of your grocer's meat case, you’ve probably noticed ground beef packaged in a number of ways. From the overwrapped foam or plastic trays most commonly used to tube-like, easy-to-store chub packaging, each packaging type offers unique benefits. Understanding each type can help you identify the one that will best fit your lifestyle.

Butcher-cut, re-ground and portioned in-store, overwrapped trays are easily found in your grocer’s meat case.

Tray Overwrap

The most common form of fresh ground beef packaging is overwrapped trays. This package type features air permeable overwrap with ground beef placed on an absorbent pad in a foam or plastic tray, giving it the most limited shelf life of all package types.


  • Comes in a wide variety of lean points and source grinds
  • Great for immediate use and last minute meal planning
  • Visually appealing/can see product
  • Butcher-cut, reground and portioned in-store
  • Appears fresher


  • Random weights, ranging from 1 lb. to 5 lb. packages

Refrigerator Shelf Life:

  • Ranging from 2 to 3 days

Freezer Storage:

  • Up to 4 months; must be overwrapped with heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic freezer bag
Case ready chubs are convenient and economical when buying ground beef in larger quantities.

Case Ready Chub

A case ready solution that comes in a tube-like package and typically includes a wide range of lean points and source grinds that are easy to store and portion.


  • Economical
  • Convenient
  • Cut marks on packages help with dividing ground beef into appropriate portions and/or freezing


  • 1 lb., 2 lb., 3 lb., 5 lb. and 10 lb.

Refrigerator Shelf Life:

  • Up to 21 days

Freezer Storage:

  • Up to 6 months; no need to re-wrap if freezing in unopened chub packaging
Case ready trays ensure ground beef that stays fresher, longer.

Case Ready Tray

This popular case ready solution is packaged and sealed at the plant in a plastic-lidded package to stay fresher longer.


  • Less leaking/less mess
  • Longer shelf life than tray overwrap packaging
  • Visually appealing/can see product
  • Good for stacking in freezer


  • 1 lb., 2 lb., 3 lb. and 5 lb.

Refrigerator Shelf Life:

  • Ranging from 3 to 21 days

Freezer Storage:

  • Up to 4 months; must be overwrapped with heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic freezer bag
FreshLast™ Pack

FreshLast Pack

FreshLast Pack is a vacuum-sealed package that seals in freshness naturally and without additives. This means less leaks and messes — from your cart to your car to your kitchen counter. The airtight packaging is freezer ready and helps to resist freezer burn while keeping beef fresh. The compact design takes up less space, using 65% less packaging than tray and overwrap packaging options. Ground beef in the FreshLast Pack has a deep red appearance thanks to the vacuum seal, which keeps oxygen out to preserve beef’s natural color.


  • 1 lb. packages and multi-pack options


  • Seals in freshness
  • Resists freezer burn
  • No additives
  • Easy-open tab for clean and simplified food prep
  • Conveniently portioned and available in a variety of lean points
  • Great for immediate use, last minute meal planning and stocking up in the freezer
  • Uses 65% less packaging than conventional tray ground beef packaging


  • 24 days including date of production, which means FreshLast Pack ground beef lasts up to two weeks longer than conventional tray packaging*


  • Up to 6 months, no repacking necessary


* Ground beef in the FreshLast Pack stays fresh two weeks longer than ground beef packaged in traditional tray foam overwrap. Source: Cargill Shelf Life Study.

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