Club packs pick up market share - The Packer

Club packs pick up market share

08/15/2014 04:01:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Club packs are gaining ground in Peruvian asparagus packaging.

The 11-pound box remains the go-to packaging choice for Peruvian asparagus for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based CarbAmericas Inc., said Jeff Friedman, the company’s president.

But there are a few variations on the theme.

“Some retailers continue to ask for 28-pound boxes,” Friedman said.

Another trend is club stores asking for Peruvian product in kilo bunches. And Friedman also is seeing Aldi and some other retailers asking for more bagged product, even though bagged product can be susceptible to overheating.

“It can really cook that asparagus, but bagging is working out well,” he said. “Some of it is microwavable bags. Also food safety.”

Eight-ounce and 12-ounce bags are two of the popular bagging options for Peruvian asparagus, Friedman said.

Chloe Varennes, marketing manager for Gourmet Trading Co., Redondo Beach, Calif., said Peruvian asparagus packers continue to become more automated and innovative in their packing procedures.

“More and more of our growers will have automated packing lines this year,” Varennes said. “This translates to higher efficiency levels, better packing quality and lower costs in the long run.”

With labor issues getting more difficult every year, automated machines are become more of a necessity, Varennes said.

“This year four of our core growers will have the automated packing machines, alleviating some of the scarce labor we run into during the year.”

The standard pack will continue to be the 5-kilogram box, Varennes said, but Peruvian packers remain flexible, and are expected to pack an abundance of specialty packs.

“Specialty items include small bundles of 80 grams for Asian markets and heavy 2-pound bunches for club packs,” Varennes said.

For U.S. markets, Peru is somewhat limited, however, because of fumigation requirements.

Eduardo Campos, director of Miami-based Crowley Fresh, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp. that provides third-party cold storage and perishables logistics for importers, said that in addition to the 5-kilo standard box, demand for 14-kilo club store packs is expected to be strong this season.

Value-added packaging is a popular option for packaging of Peruvian asparagus, said Priscilla Lleras, coordinator for the Miami-based Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association.

But an old favorite will still enjoy steady sales this year.

“Transit trends are predominantly in the 5-kilogram boxes,” Lleras said.



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