The unseen content in every package is its cost.

Manufacturers and produce shippers note, though, that it’s not completely invisible — they see the costs continue to rise.

Keeping costs under control is a major issue for both groups.

How do they do it?

Comprehensively, said Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing with Naples, Fla.-based berry grower-shipper Naturipe Farms LLC.

“Production costs continue to rise in all facets of the produce industry, and we are responding by looking at the cost of the entire system from our fields to a family’s table,” he said.

Verloop says an “integrated approach” is mandatory to controlling packaging costs.

“To that end we are continuing to sell more of our berries in larger clamshells, which are more efficient in material costs and handling, on a pound-for-pound basis,” he said.

Larger packs cut costs across the supply chain, Verloop noted.

“We take that into consideration as we discuss our long-term programs with the retailers and foodservice accounts,” he said.

How do manufacturers address cost control?

“We address material costs by constantly researching alternative materials and developing programs designed to reduce our customers understand the total cost,” said Mike Kennedy, president of the Willoughby, Ohio-based Kennedy Group.

A high-quality package will serve a dual purpose in cutting costs, said Kari Dawson-Ekeland, marketing director for adjacent markets with the food & beverage division of Elmwood Park, N.J.-based Sealed Air Corp.

“When you reduce that shrink, that’s one of the biggest things,” she said.

One way to do that is to develop a package that provides for proper respiration, she added.

“The other thing is looking at the correct gauge of the product to get the protection you need,” she said.

She also agreed with Verloop’s description of a comprehensive approach to cost control.

“When you look at minimizing material costs, how many cases can you get in the pallet?” she said.

Work in developing lower-cost films that don’t compromise quality and reaches high environmental standards is always a challenge, and the quest for the right combination is ongoing, said Ed Johnson, president of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Specialty Bags Inc.

“We’re working on ways to keep the cost down for the resin so we have a true compostable product we can sell,” he said.

Another way to fight higher costs is to develop means to use less raw materials, said David Grice, sales and marketing agent with Houston-based FormTex Plastics.

“We have engineers at our manufacturing facilities — that’s what they’re doing day in and day out, designing packages that use less plastic but are just as strong,” he said.