“It’s not just your value-added fresh-cut,” he said. “It’s also whole fruits and vegetables that are put in a clamshell.”
Shippers are packing avocados, beefsteak tomatoes, kiwifruit, brussells sprouts and other items in clamshells for food safety and ease of handling for consumers and ease of merchandising for retailers, he said.
The company makes about 30 kinds of clamshells, ranging from 4-ounce packages for blueberries to 4-pound units for grapes and strawberries.
More prepared products, controlled portions and portability are trends that Kari Dawson-Ekeland, marketing director for center of the store, adjacent markets, food care division, at Seald Air Corp., Elmwood Park, N.J., has noticed.
Packaging that caters to those trends helps get produce into more eating occasions, allows easy cleanup and adds consumer convenience and product safety, she said.
“The packaging actually serves as the serving dish as well as for protection of the product when it’s in transport,” she said.
Increasingly, portion packs of items such as sliced apples or baby carrots enable consumers to buy multiple single-serving packages at one time.
“You can put one in a gym bag or lunch box or take to work without having to rework the package to make it suitable for eating on the go,” she said.
Manufacturers also are adding more flavors — taking, for example, a product that might be fairly neutral and including seasoning and flavor packets “to make it more of a savory event or a sweet event.”
Reusable plastic containers continue their steady growth, said Fred Heptinstall, president and general manager of Tampa, Fla.-based IFCO USA.
Up to 15% of total retail produce cases now are shipped in RPCs, depending on the season, according IFCO.
About 12,000 stores now use RPCs, including most of the major supermarket chains, Heptinstall said.