Innovative packaging drives fresh-cut produce sales - The Packer

Innovative packaging drives fresh-cut produce sales

03/08/2012 11:47:00 AM
Cynthia David

This year’s high-graphic flexible bags stand up straight and practically shout their presence to consumers walking by, no matter what fruit or vegetable is inside.

Bunny Luv baby-cut carrots in a brand new six-pack of 2-ounce bags from Bakersfield, Calif.-based Grimmway Farms is a prime example with its shiny laminated bag, resealable zipper closure and the tagline, "Just Crunch ’Em."

"On the shelf it will jump out and say, ‘Purchase me, I’m healthy!’" said Bob Borda, Grimmway’s vice president of marketing.

The new bag is an innovative alternative to Grimmway’s banded-snack carrots.

"It’s just enough to get the repeat purchase every week," Borda said, "and keeps carrots fresh in the minds of kids and parents alike."

In Wenatchee, Wash., Stemilt Growers Inc. reports its 3-pound Lil Snapper bags with zippers and reinforced handles for apples and pears have exceeded expectations.

"The hardest part of program is selling something in a way it hasn’t been sold before," said marketing director Roger Pepperl.

He said consumers love the product, which launched in October, despite its higher price.

"The reality is it’s an upgrade of what they were buying before — small apples are small apples — but we’ve made them easier to merchandise, which means they don’t get beat up as much, and they stand out in the fridge at home," he said.

"Everything about them is easier and fresher-looking."

Pepperl said some retailers that didn’t carry Stemilt’s standard 3-pound poly bags are carrying Lil Snappers, and retailers who don’t normally carry bagged pears or Pink Lady apples in a bag are doing well with them.

Considering the cost of the new bags and the extra labor to pack Stemilt’s new display-ready box, Pepperl said a case of Lil Snappers costs about $2.50 more than a case of regular bags of fruit.

"Retailers are retrieving that on the sale," he said. "They’re getting more money for them, and they’re selling more of them."

In the lettuce section, Gonzalez, Calif.-based Misionero Vegetables, which specializes in organic salad clamshells, has launched two heads of organic EarthGreens iceberg lettuce in a clear resealable bag with a handle.

"We thought we could present it better than by just putting an overwrap on it, "said Dan Canales, vice president sales and marketing.

Canales said sales of the colorful bag are picking up in Canada and the mid-Atlantic, and he expects wider distribution by the end of the year.

Speaking of Canada, butternut squash and sweet potato cubes are jumping off retail shelves in their new 14-ounce or 32-ounce laminated bags.

Freshline Foods, Mississauga, Ontario, which is just west of Toronto, is the first Canadian processor to launch fresh-cut in a high-graphic breathable package with a window, said Noel Brigido, vice president of operations.

"We started testing in summer with cored pineapple and pineapple chunks, then sliced apples," Brigido said.

"Now we’re doing root vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, rutabaga and parisienne potatoes."

The flexible bags not only stand up on the shelf and in the fridge, he said, but they use less physical packaging, and more will fit in a box, reducing transportation and fuel costs.

The bags also allow Freshline to tailor the breatheability of the package to the product.

"You can’t really do that with a rigid package," he said.

Brigido said shelf life and consumer appeal to date have been outstanding, but he predicts it will still take awhile for consumers to adapt to the new package.



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