Suppliers help companies identify best packaging options

07/21/2011 11:56:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Foodservice customers often have special packaging needs, and suppliers have found that it makes good business sense to try to accommodate them.

Church Brothers LLC, Salinas, Calif., offers a lot of special packs in addition to its regular foodservice packages, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development.

“We’re not a one-trick pony where we only want to do 24-count lettuce or romaine,” he said. “We’ll do some different things as well.”

The company offers small sizes, mixed packs and other options at customer request, he said.

Foodservice operators typically order large package sizes, such as 5-pound bags, said Jay Iverson, partner and vice president of sales and marketing for GreenGate Fresh LLLP, Salinas.

However, smaller customers sometimes will ask for 2.5-pound bags, which GreenGate Fresh also provides.

“We’ll look at anything,” he said, with an emphasis on giving customers an edge on freight savings and warehouse efficiencies.

Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., offers a full selection of packaging solutions to meet all distributor and operator needs, said Doug Ronan, vice president of marketing.

The company even offers advice to customers to help them select the packaging that is right for them.

“We do make recommendations based on fruit size and the best solution for the specific foodservice application to minimize damage caused by packaging,” Ronan said.

The Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif., ships specialty packs on request to certain customers who want, for example, 5- or 10-pound boxes of citrus or grapes or three-count packs of cantaloupes or honeydews, vice president Jeff Olsen said.

When it comes to packaging, Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla., is “flexible,” said Mitch DiMarco, director of foodservice/industrial operations.

“We want to give customers what they need,” he said.

About 90% of the firm’s package is “typical,” he said, but if someone wants something special, “We will do everything we can to satisfy the customer.”

During the economic downturn, customers were more concerned with cost cutting than fancy packaging, said Mike O’Leary, vice president of fresh-cut for Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif.

He expects to see an increase in packaging innovations as the economy picks up, but manufacturers still will have to make sure the changes won’t drive up costs, he said.



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