A number of California table grape grower-shippers have come up with some innovative packaging developments to make life easier for consumers, retailers and distributors.
Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Bros. Inc. has introduced its Quick Rinse Cube that allows consumers to give their grapes a thorough rinsing just by holding the clear plastic container under the kitchen faucet, said Tristan Kieva, director of business development and marketing.
The package comes with a Grab & Go handle and instructions on how to “rinse, shake and serve,” Kieva said.
The Quick Rinse Cube, in development for a year, offers retailer improved space efficiency and flexible merchandising opportunities, she said. The container is in keeping with the trend toward hard-sided containers that reduce shrink and enhance shelf impact. The cube comes in a 2-pound size and will be available nationwide this season.
Kingsburg, Calif.-based Sierra Packaging Solutions is making its three-layer SmartPac polymer box liners available commercially in California for the third year, said owner and president Clyde Ulrich.
The liners, which are filled with sulfur dioxide, replace the traditional SO2 pads, he said.
The liners are activated when they’re packed in boxes of table grapes and are better than pads because they allow less airflow — only .9% ventilation — to come across the grapes to dry them out, Ulrich said.
They give the grapes homogenous distribution of SO2 and help control decay, he added. As a result, when exported grapes reach their destination up to 70 days after shipping, “Your arrivals are going to have greener stems and fresher berries than other packing styles in the system right now,” he said.
Packers will use about 2 million of the recyclable liners in California alone this season, he said.
They are used largely for exports and for late-season storage grapes.
HMC Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif., has acquired a flow-wrap machine to overwrap trays or punnets, said Steve Kenfield, vice president of marketing.
“What intrigued us is that it uses 35% less plastic than clamshells,” he said.
It enables the company to include graphics and consumer messages on the packaging, he said, and the process also has modified-atmosphere applications.
The pack style already is prevalent in Europe, and it’s gaining traction on certain items in the U.S., Kenfield said.
The flow-wrap systems works well in HMC’s processing facility for destemmed grapes and tricolor punnets.
The firm is expanding its in-house packing operation to be able do these types of packaging — using product from cold storage and restyling it into specific containers — he said.
“It offers our customers an opportunity to get fresh product packed in innovative ways in a food safety-certified facility that can’t be done in field,” Kenfield said.
The company will do anything it can to reduce the effects of petroleum-based packaging, he added.