ORLANDO — Innovating in packaging sometimes means solving problems consumers don’t realize they had.

Three industry presenters from the Designing Packing that Sells session March 2 at the Southeast Produce Council took a chance and revolutionized their respective categories, from making the difficult-to-prepare artichoke easy at home to taking on one of the “sacred cows” of the mushroom category.

Marketers discuss packaging successNatureSweet Tomatoes Ltd.’s innovative domed clamshell wasn’t initially a hit, said Kathryn Ault, vice president of sales for the San Antonio-based company.

“That was a creation by our design agency we later took to consumers, with the label on top and the ability to dispense from the top,” she said. “Initially consumers didn’t actually care for the package because they didn’t recognize it as an issue they had. Sometimes we can identify a consumer problem before they can and provide a solution. Eventually they say ‘Oh, I get it.’”

Keeping consumers up-to-date about the changes, especially when the company transitioned from net bags to domes for its signature cherry tomato program, was important for NatureSweet.

“We actually did communication on the old pack about the new, and on the new pack about the old,” she said. “We were trying to keep our consumers informed about the changes.”

For Ocean Mist, introducing the Season & Steam Artichoke pack was a process that took years of trial and error, from finding the right technology to deciding the best artichoke to put in the bag, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development.

“We changed how we presented artichokes to the consumer by eliminating preparation, reducing cooking time and creating a fool-proof cooking method,” she said. “The process for artichokes took six to seven years.”

For the company’s Season & Steam Brussels Sprouts, the process was quicker, less than a year, she said.Marketers discuss packaging success

Monterey Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms also had a lot of trial and error in finding a solution for a more sustainable till than the industry standard Styrofoam, Jim Burt, national vice president of sales.

Consumer reaction, even without promoting the change at retail, has been overwhelmingly positive, Burt said, with many comments coming in through Monterey Mushrooms’ website, even from customers who cannot purchase the tills in stores in their area.

The environmental benefits are one aspect of the new tills, Burt said, but the new package also offers Monterey Mushrooms other benefits.

“The nice thing about the paper is that it gives us the real estate to talk to shoppers,” he said. “We’re using it to suggest to consumers all the ways they can use mushrooms.”