There is no one-size-fits-all option for packing peppers to ship to market. Pepper producers find that customizing their packaging options best suits their customers’ varying needs.
“We do whatever we can to individualize (packaging) for our customers and focus on what their specific needs are,” said Ben Wiers, vice president of operations at Wiers Farm, Willard, Ohio.
He said they don’t have clamshells but do offer specialty packs, for which he’s seen a greater demand.
“Certain retail chains want the open-top bell pepper (package) because they get greater consistency with this, the same quality from pepper to pepper.
“We want to meet our customers’ expectations so they can increase their sales and we can increase our sales,” Wiers added. “That’s why we are willing to do the specialty packs.”
Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., offers a variety of packaging options, including multicolored or single-color bell peppers in bags, or customers can mix and match colors, said director of marketing Mike Aiton. Prime Time also offers four-, six-, eight- and nine-count and choice grade.
“It gives us a lot of flexibility to put up different packs for all our customers,” Aiton explained.
Aiton added that growth in miniature peppers surged last year and the company tripled its acreage.
“It’s a quickly growing item for us,” he said. “We have those in 1- and 2-pound bags, clamshells and bulk.”
In response to its customer demand, Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group anticipated all of its value-added pepper programs to increase this season, said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.
“Our growers are very nimble and can adapt quickly to a range of customer preferences,” he said. “We offer two-packs, three-packs, four-packs and six-packs, as well as 2-pound bags using various combinations of all three colors for each. As retail value-added programs continue to grow, we will build on our substantial portfolio of packaging options.”
“We pride ourselves on continuing the search for new packaging initiatives,” said Kevin Batt, director of sales for BC Hot House Foods Inc., Surrey, British Columbia.
He said the bell pepper box it uses is a result of years of testing to help ensure longer shelf life.
“We continue to tailor our packing to that of the customer. Whether it’s a 2-pound mixed pepper bag or ‘watermelon’-sized bins for bulk/case lot sales, we have the flexibility to pack as requested.”
At Nature Fresh Farms, Leamington, Ontario, the four- and six-packs are popular choices, as is the rainbow three-pack (red, yellow and orange bells), said president Peter Quiring, adding that they also offer individually wrapped peppers.
A few large retailers have expressed interest in reusable plastic containers, so Gilroy, Calif-based Uesugi Farms Inc. created ways to pack more RPCs and Euro display-ready cartons, said salesman Damon Barkdull. Uesugi Farms soon plans to pack all three colors of bell peppers into RPCs and Euros.
“Our Euro pack, or display-ready pack, is a great option for retailers,” he said. “For retailers willing to use the display-ready box in their merchandising, there’s virtually no extra handling. The bonus with the Euro pack is you’re getting only the best peppers by color, shape and condition. Plus, it’s a shrink-free pack. Less hassle means more profit at the retail end.”