New packaging differentiates organic produce

04/27/2011 02:00:51 PM
Ashley Bentley

An organic apple may not look too different from a conventional one, so differentiation often comes down to the packaging.

Because of their target consumers’ preference for natural, sustainable products, many organic shippers also invest in more Earth-friendly ways to package their produce.

Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff Family Farms markets its organic line of vegetables in recyclable cartons that do not use wax-based petroleum additives. Its bags and clamshells also use recyclable materials, said Tom Deardorff II, president. The company unveiled a new label in January.

San Diego-based Organics Unlimited is trying a new, lidless banana box this spring, said Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president and co-founder. The box is a design made from a single piece of cardboard folded so that it does not need staples or glue. A lid is placed over the bananas for stacking and shipping, but the box does not have traditional flaps on top.

Private-label packaging is becoming much more popular, and organic produce is no exception, said Addie Pobst, import coordinator for CF Fresh, Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

“In the past few years, private-label packing has really grown,” Pobst said.

The company’s pear grower in Argentina is using a new style of box this year that requires 12 fewer cooling hours to bring the fruit down to optimal temperatures after packing, Pobst said. The box allows the company to save energy as well as improve shelf life of the fruit.

“It is sturdier than the old style box, enabling us to stack eight more boxes per pallet for more efficient freight, as well as interlocking corner tabs that contribute to pallet stability,” Pobst said.

The box is made of unbleached cardboard and printed with a three-color design. They should start arriving in the U.S. in mid-May.

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc. uses a modified atmosphere flow wrap for its organic cherries to help improve shelf life, which is often shorter for organic produce than for conventional. Once the cherries are sealed in the flow wrap, the air inside adjusts to the fruit, allowing it to breathe, said Brianna Shales, communications manager.

“This is ideal for organics, as they do not turn as quickly as conventional cherries do,” Shales said.



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