Sweet corn is usually sold in overwrapped trays throughout the year, but peak production calls for bulk displays.
Randy Vande Guchte, president of Superior Sales Inc., Hudsonville, Mich., said that summer requires a different approach to packaging.
"Most corn sold during the summer deal is sold in the husk in a bulk display where people can get that summer, farmers market feel," he said.
Brett Bergmann, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, Fla., said packaged sweet corn is more prevalent in the winter months when prices already are higher because of reduced volumes.
"During the spring and summer, bulk is still king by far," he said. "From a consumer standpoint, that's the way they want it. Corn costs twice as much in the winter because we have one-tenth the amount we have in the spring. Sweet corn consumption is down. Some retailers carry tray packs and get out of bulk. Other chains carry tray packs all year and sell a lot of it."
Packaged corn accounts for roughly 15% of the category, said J.D. Poole, vice president and sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, Fla.
"Our research has shown that packaged corn customers are loyal to that package even in peak bulk corn times," he said. "The packaged corn brings an added value to the category in that you can see the product without having to deal with the husk or the silks."
Scott Michael, vice president and co-owner of Michael Farms Inc., Willard, Ohio, whose company does not tray-pack corn, said he has been using reusable plastic containers for a decade and ships half his sweet corn volume in RPCs.
"I don't think RPCs are necessarily the best packaging for all kinds of produce, but it's the best container there is for sweet corn," he said. "It's easy to pack in. It lets some air in, but it's not excessive."
He said sweet corn cools quickly in RPCs and can be watered down without fear of the container collapsing.
Randy Borgardt said Borzynski uses crates, bins and RPCs.
"These containers offer the best chance to ship a high-quality product," he said. "I feel that there is no advantage for flavor, quality and shelf life (with tray packs). The only advantage is the convenience of the tray corn for prep time."