In the realm of fresh produce packaging, it’s anything but “one size fits all." While convenience packs gain prominence in retail outlets, larger pack sizes tend to fill the bill for foodservice. And while clamshells become increasingly popular housing for fruit, bags retain a special place — particularly for certain commodities.
Companies such as Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties continue to adapt packaging for specific needs, said Charlie Eagle, the company’s vice president of business development, who noted that his company’s revamp of its microwave packaging for its Southern Selects line was anything but a snap decision.
“We commissioned surveys to determine consumer responses to our existing packaging, as well as packaging of others in the industry,” he said. “We created a dynamic, contemporized Southern Selects presentation that we felt had a fresh, premium persona.”
The convenience bag trend has crossed into uncharted territory, encompassing such items as Walla Walla sweet onions, said Dan Borer, general manager of Walla Walla, Wash.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc.
Keystone Fruit is using high-graphic bags that include recipes, and Borer said the company plans to add convenience bags with nutritional information in the near future.
“We’re selling more in consumer packs every year, and the 3-pounder seems to be becoming the dominant pack,” Borer said.
Mexican table grapes are transitioning from poly bags to clamshells similar to those popularized by berries while New Jersey-area grower-shippers increasingly are turning to larger clamshells and netted bags, sources said.
“It’s not at a rapid pace, but it is increasing every year,” said Jared Lane, vice president of marketing for Stevco Inc., Los Angeles.
Bill Nardelli, president of Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros. Inc., said consumers want more convenience packs, although they don’t want to pay price premiums for them.
Value packs also are stealing some market share from bulk pepper displays.
“We’re seeing a high demand for multi-packs, especially in the value format,” said Darren Micelle, marketing officer for Immokalee, Fla.-based Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. “Bag packaging has also increased, in order to cater to value, as well.”
“Packaged pepper sales have increased by about 5% since 2006,” said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group. “Selling peppers in packs is ideal because it helps maintain quality while providing a value-size offering.”
Foodservice operators tend toward large package sizes, such as 5-pound bags, said Jay Iverson, partner and vice president of sales and marketing for GreenGate Fresh LLLP, Salinas, Calif.
Whatever the packaging venue for fresh produce, the stakes will continue to rise as competition mounts and grower-shippers and marketers try to use bags and clamshells as miniature advertisements of their products and use increasingly complex graphics to both attract attention and provide information about their products.