With harried schedules and a desire to eat more healthful foods, consumers continue to seek convenience when purchasing produce, said many grower-shippers.
“Anything that makes healthy eating convenient is showing signs of growth,” said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing for Ocean Mist Farms.
The Castroville, Calif.-based grower-shipper has seen strong consumer response to the Season & Steam zipper bag technology it uses for its artichoke and fresh-cut brussels sprouts product lines, she said.
The bag allows consumers to open it, season the contents and reseal it before steaming in a microwave.
The artichoke packaging in 2010 netted Ocean Mist a Produce Marketing Association Impact Award for excellence in produce packaging.
Virtually all of Mann Packing’s packaged products are microwavable, except for its fresh vegetable trays, Broccolini hand-packaged tray and cubed butternut squash clamshell, said Lori Bigras, marketing manager.
Lidless vegetable trays also seem to be ringing with consumers, she said. The latest is a vegetable tray featuring Sabra-brand classic hummus.
In addition, Salinas-based Mann Packing has seen tremendous growth with its sugar snap pea line packaged in 8- 15- and 32-ounce containers.
“I think consumers just need different snacking options from traditional carrots and celery sticks,” Bigras said.
Along that line, Mann Packing has seen sales upticks from its Snacks on the Go!, lunch-sized vegetable packs in varieties that include baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli crowns, snap peas and grape tomatoes, all with light ranch dip.
Fresh Express also has seen strong demand for several of its newer value-added products that address consumer convenience, said Abbye Lakin, corporate communications specialist for parent company Chiquita Brands International Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Bags of Asian cooking greens and the Simply Spinach cooking greens include vegetables, a seasoning pack and either a sesame dressing for the Asian greens or olive oil for the spinach.
The all-in-one package fits the 63% of consumers who in surveys say they buy products that are easy to prepare, according to Fresh Express merchandising sheets.
The seasoning also helps raise the taste profile of the greens and create a product that consumers will eat more often.
In addition, the package backs include consumer recipes.
Bags of Juicing Greens contain baby kale and baby spinach and are designed for the 26% of consumers who make smoothies.
The greens are washed and ready to use, saving consumers time. Because the spinach and kale are packed together, it eliminates the need to buy both and possibly having some go to waste, according to sales sheets.
And the Singles line, which includes an Italian mix, baby spinach, and a 50/50 blend of spinach and spring mix, caters to consumers who may eat alone and want single-serve packages. Each package has two individual bags that can be separated along a perforation line.
“Our Fresh Express singles were driven by consumer insights, which our category management and R&D teams worked to develop into a solution that provided a unique packaging and value proposition for retailers and consumers,” she said.
“The singles packaging provides the ability for our salad to stay fresher longer for consumers by dividing one bag into two perfectly portioned servings that can be opened one at a time to create two fresh eating occasions.”