He said CMI has developed a clamshell pack for 8-row cherries this year to serve retailers who want a premium look for their displays.
“Clamshells have come up in the last five years, really driven by the club stores,” he said. Mast estimated clamshell may account for close to 35% of CMI’s volume.
Meanwhile, shippers said a “flow wrap” pack is being considered by retailers as an alternative to clamshells. However, some buyers fear the seal wrap over a container won’t leave them the option of removing a bad cherry, Mast said. Stems of cherries can also spoil the seal of a flow-wrap container.
“We haven’t seen an option out there that works better than bags or clamshells,” Mast said.
Steve Lutz, executive vice president of Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill., said he expects the popularity of clamshell packs to increase despite the cost factor.
“The clamshell protects the produce better, and there is a segment of consumers much more willing to buy cherries in a clamshell,” he said.
However, higher unit prices for clamshell containers hold some customers back.
“Some retailers want clams but don’t want to pay for it,” said Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan.
He said one supermarket that used clamshells last year reverted back to the zipper bag this year due to price concerns.
Riggan said one chain store asked Chelan Fresh to consider a 12-ounce clamshell pack for rainiers to lower the price point.
Chris Falk, vice president of Yakima-based Yakima Fruit & Produce Co., said retailers ask for quotes on clamshells but tend to back off when they see the cost.