“The fruit presents itself really well, and they’re less susceptible (to bruising),” he said.
One- and 2-pounders are the most popular clamshell sizes for cherries, though some club stores will ask for even larger packs, Parker said.
While clamshells can help protect cherries, if they’re packed correctly, bags also do a perfectly adequate job of keeping fruit safe, Parker said.
Sometimes, the extra-delicate rainiers and royal rainiers Scattaglia ships will be packed in smaller bags for added pro-tection, he said.
The trend in cherry packaging is definitely away from bulk and toward packaged product, Nelsen said.
The main reason is food safety concerns, he said. Also, packaged cherries are easier for retailers to handle.
While bags are the most popular choice for packaged cherries, clamshells are gaining ground, he said. Food safety, again, is the reason, though retailers have to weigh that advantage versus the not-inconsiderable price difference.
Switching to clams “raises the costs tremendously,” Nelsen said.
Clamshells are an especially good match for rainiers, which bruise more easily, said Jimmy Williams, domestic and export sales manager for Stockton, Calif.-based Grower Direct Marketing LLC.
Clamshell sales are growing, particularly toward the begin-ning of the deal, when light volumes mean high prices and retailers are looking to reduce sticker shock, which they can accomplish with the smaller clams, said Maurice Cameron, president of Hanford, Calif.-based Flavor Tree Fruit Co., which markets fruit packed by Hanford-based Warmerdam Packing LLC.
“For the first three or four weeks, some are taking it all in clams before switching to bags,” Cameron said.