More value and specialty packs, and increasing demand for recyclables, are among the packaging trends in the greenhouse vegetable industries.
BC Hot House, Langley, British Columbia, is introducing several packaged products this year, said sales director Kevin Batt.
Batt characterizes two of those new items as value items. One is a 12-ounce Vexar cherry tomato pack, the other is a 10½-ounce Easy Bite grape tomato pack.
“We can get the price points on them that allows people to carry them,” he said.
BC Hot House will roll out the packs this spring, Batt said.
More customers are appreciating the convenience of packaged greenhouse vegetable products, Batt said. Take grape and cherry tomato clamshells.
“You can rinse them in the clam and dump them right into the bowl with your bagged salad,” he said. “Also, they make for great snacking and help provide healthy alternatives for your kids’ lunches.”
BC Hot House is using its packaging more to take advantage of the trend of connecting growers and consumers. Retailers are placing more of an onus on growers to get desirable messages across to consumers, he said.
On the inside of many of its clamshells is a photograph of and text about the grower who grew the tomatoes or peppers, Batt said.
“People need to know it wasn’t just spit out at a factory that there are farmers behind the glass,” he said.
The grower photos and bios have been a “huge success,” he said.
Another packaging trend BC Hot House is tapping into is the rise of consumer packaging, Batt said.
“Value-added is starting to become very important for retailers,” he said. “Three-count pepper packs, specialty tomato clamshells, 2-pound pepper bags — they add a nice mix to bulk.”
Batt also has noticed more retailers turning to private-label packaging, which can be a smart alternative with a consumer base still smarting from the recession.
Madison, Maine-based Backyard Farms LLC continues to see strong demand for the 10-ounce brown paper box it began packing cocktail tomatoes in about 1½ years ago, said Tim Cunniff, vice president of sales and marketing.
“We decided to do something different from clamshells,” he said. “It folds flat and is recyclable. We’ve had pretty good success with it.”
Leamington, Ontario-based Nature Fresh Farms Inc. expects to ship more produce in private label packs tailored to individual retailers, said Jay Colasanti, who works in sales and market development for the company.
“(Private labeling) has become a big factor with retailers,” Colasanti said. “Having that unification of branding on the shelf, especially if they have more than one supplier.”
Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group continues to see increased demand for recyclable and reusable packaging, said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.
“It’s always evolving, and I think it will continue evolving,” he said. “Wal-Mart and other customers are requesting certain packaging that’s earth-friendly.”
Quon, like BC Hot House’s Batt, also sees tremendous value in using packaging to differentiate greenhouse-grown from conventionally grown vegetables.
Value-added clamshells and bags that contain information about where the product came from “allow shippers to get their message across,” Quon said.
“People want to know where it’s coming from,” he said. “We want to provide them with as much information as possible.”
Doug Kling, chief sales and marketing officer for Village Farms, Eatontown, N.J., and Helen Aquino, marketing manager, are seeing increased demand for value-added packaging and larger packs.
Two-pound campari cocktail tomato and tomato-on-the-vine packs, mini cucumber bags and shrink-wrapped trays and 3-pound beefsteak clamshells are among the big sellers for the company, Aquino said.
Driving the strong demand, she said, is consumers’ desire to to make fewer trips to the grocery store, to prepare more meals at home and to extend their food dollar.
Village Farms is seeing stronger demand for value-added packaging from its conventional and club store retail customers, Aquino said.
New this season in packaging for Village Farms is an environmentally friendly outer case box.
The wax-free box, introduced last fall, is recyclable and does not contain bleached cardboard, Aquino said. It also contains less cardboard overall than other outer case boxes, she said.
In addition, the box, made by International Paper, has been certified by the Sustainability Forestry Initiative.