Foodservice suppliers emphasize packaging options

12/16/2013 02:40:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Foodservice suppliers typically offer customers a variety of packaging options, which often means pack sizes that are larger than the consumer packs they might ship to retailers.

There also seems to be trend developing among some foodservice operators who prefer smaller packs that are delivered several times a week.

The Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif., offers “breaker packs,” like 5 pounds of oranges, lemons and grapes, said president Jeff Olsen. The company also offers 10-pound boxes of those commodities and half cartons of citrus.

Much of the packaging that Orlando, Fla.-based Spice World Inc. offers is standardized, said Mitch DiMarco, director of foodservice/industrial operations. But he adds that the company can be flexible when it comes to serving its customers.

“If we don’t have the right pack, we can get it or make it for them,” he said.

Often, he said, foodservice distributors or national or regional chains ask for a variety of larger packages, he said.

Foodservice customers of Church Brothers LLC, Salinas, Calif., also typically ask for larger packages than retailers, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development.

The company has launched a packaging reduction program “to reduce our costs and become a little greener.”

“We’re diligently working on reducing our carbon footprint,” Van Eeghen said.

Foodservice customers of Salinas-based GreenGate Fresh LLP also prefer larger packages, said Jay Iverson, vice president of sales and marketing.

“Your typical bag size in foodservice is 2- to 5 pounds,” he said, while typical supermarket packages range from 10 ounces to 1 pound.

Gold Coast Packing Inc., Santa Maria, Calif., specializes in producing customized packs for the foodservice trade, said Brent Scattini, vice president of sales.

“We’re very adept at producing produce items that meet a foodservice-specific need or a recipe-specific quantity,” he said.

The company works with restaurant chains to create customized blends or pack sizes that meet their needs at store level, he said.

The variety of cilantro packs the company offers is an example of that program.

Gold Coast offers some unique 2- and 4-ounce-size packs of cilantro, some of which contain customized cuts or pre-chopped product, he said.

Mastronardi Fresh, the foodservice division of Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce, has a number of dedicated foodservice packs, including private label, Sunset brand products and the Mastronardi Fresh Field & Farm brand, said Daniela Ferro, communication coordinator.

“Whether it’s a national chain or a small restaurant, we adjust our packaging to ensure the freshest, highest-quality product is delivered,” she said.

Many restaurants have transitioned from bulk packs to portion packs over the past decade or so to better manage inventory, said Mike O’Leary, vice president of sales and marketing for the fresh-cut division of Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif.

Ordering smaller pack sizes actually may be more expensive for the customer than bulk boxes, but they can help reduce shrink in the back of house by eliminating the amount of product brought into the system, he said.

“Well-managed chains do a lot of that,” O’Leary said.

But such programs also can add costs for suppliers who have to put up smaller packs.

“The more of that you do, the more expensive it is to run that product,” he said. “It’s got to be the right fit for the right customer (so that) the value proposition is mutual.”

Spice World’s DiMarco agreed.

“It’s difficult to invest a lot of money in a special pack for a guy that’s real small,” he said. “You’ve got to have your bang for the buck.”

The look of the package typically isn’t top of mind for foodservice operators.

“The packaging is less dynamic,” Iverson said.

Foodservice accounts generally aren’t into graphics or logos, he said, preferring plain boxes or bags.

“The end consumer is not enticed by the packaging,” he said. “It’s a salad on their plate or lettuce on their sandwich.”



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