Dan Galbraith, sections editor
Dan Galbraith, sections editor

Fresh produce companies are finding the most success today when they run their business and their packaging the same way — with transparency.

It’s all because consumers are not only growing increasingly inquisitive but because we’re also becoming increasingly spoiled and lazy.

The open-to-all business model began to gain popularity with the emergence of the locally grown produce trend. Now companies with marketing savvy are leveraging the trend by using point-of-sale and other materials to highlight their family business roots and connections with local growers.

The transparency trend has also never been more prevalent that it is right now with regard to fresh produce packaging.

As sections editor for The Packer for almost eight years, I can tell you that about all I see in packaging stories for various sections these days are quotes about how see-through bags are becoming a bigger and bigger trend.

For cherries. For grapes.

For everything.

Greater product visibility shows confidence in a company’s commitment to quality, illustrating to consumers that you are not just saying the product inside is fresh, but proving it is.

Another part of packaging transparency has to do with what a company prints on the outside of its bags. You can get increased transparency traction by including the story of a local grower on the packaging or use the packaging to refer consumers to social media sites, coordinating fuller product and/or company disclosure.

Another often-overlooked aspect of transparency in packaging is the standup feature fresh produce companies are featuring today.

Standup bags don’t just look cool — they’re actually increasing the percentage of a bag that’s visible to customers as the bag sits on the retail shelf.

I’ll say it again: Be transparent with your business practices and with the fresh produce packaging you use and you will be successful.

Of course, if you’ve been in the fresh produce industry for any length of time, you’ve heard the terms “transparency,” “disclosure” and “connection with consumers” more than once.

However, it’s officially reached the time when fresh produce companies that don’t do this effectively and thoroughly via multiple methods are losing out to competition that is doing so.

And if you want to climb even higher on the fresh produce company food chain, ratchet up your packaging a couple more notches by offering greater convenience.

Right now, I’d say from all the fresh produce data that filters through me as an editor at The Packer, the ultimate fresh produce packaging is the “standup, high-graphic, handled pouch bag.”

That’s because consumers today not only want to see the product they’re buying, but they want to be able to pick it up easily. So the “grab-and-go” trend doesn’t just apply to single-serve items at convenience stories, but also more bulk-type items at more traditional retail locations.

I mentioned earlier that consumers are getting lazier all the time.

How lazy, you ask?

Well, so much so that an innovative Japanese packaging company is drawing raves for developing Q-tip packaging with laser-scored vertical lines on plastic packages in response to consumer demands for packaging that more easily allows them to pick out only a single swab.

Yes, you read correctly. We’re actually that lazy!

Robert Hogan, director of global business development for Manteno, Ill.-based Zip-Pak, referenced that example of how packaging for other industries like fresh produce will change due to increasing consumer demands when he presented at the Store Brands Decisions Innovation & Marketing Summit in Chicago earlier this year.

If you don’t believe me about the convenience trend, believe Hogan, who claims convenience is one of the five biggest packaging themes now.

“There’s little question that providing consumer convenience enhances brand appeal,” according to a Zip-Pak release. “Independent market research indicates that consumers instantly recognize the ease of use that resealable packaging offers, and are more inclined to choose such a packaging, regardless of price.”

Zip-Pak, known for its partnerships with produce companies on resealable packaging, might already be working on a Q-tip-inspired, vertical line-scored package to allow single servings of carrots or celery.

Which means you, or your packaging supplier, ought to be working on packaging that is more transparent, more convenient and more detail-oriented to engage the lazy too.

If you haven’t already started to do so, prepare to panic because you’re already behind and likely have already lost out on some future sales from spoiled consumers like me.

I’ve got to go now for a quick snack — as soon as I figure out how to extract a single grape from this standup, high-graphic, handled pouch bag I just bought. It seems to be missing its laser-scored vertical slits.

dgalbraith@thepacker.com

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