SALINAS, Calif. â Though bags are what revolutionized salads, it's the clamshell that's gaining more space in retail displays.
When it comes to organic salads, processors routinely use only clamshells, forgoing bags altogether, though bags remain the packaging of choice for most conventional salads.
Organic Girl only uses clamshell packaging for its organic salads and kits, said Margaret Scattini, who works in marketing and product development for the company, something that the organic customer has come to expect.
"It's the busy consumer who buys packaged salads," Scattini said.
Ready Pac Produce, Irwindale, now offers its full line of conventional and organic salads in clamshells for branded and private label based on growing consumer preference for clamshells, said Ali Leon, senior director strategic business development.
Courtesy Earthbound Farm
Earthbound Farm, Salinas, Calif., offers salads in punnets made of 100% postconsumer recycled product.
Companies like Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, and Earthbound Farm, San Juan Bautista, have recently changed their packaging to either reflect a new design or change in packaging materials.
Ocean Mist redesigned packaging for 25 of its commodities, including its bagged spinach, with more nutrition information for consumers and more information on how they can recycle the low-density polyethylene on cello wrapped items. The packaging also reduces the amount of ink required by up to 80%.
Earthbound Farm is changing over all of its polyethylene terephthalate punnets to 100% postconsumer recycled product. The company estimates it will divert 1.3 million pounds of solid waste from landfills.
"I think product innovation is important because for the most part consumers still want the best quality salad greens that are out there," said Charles Sweat, chief executive officer and president of Earthbound Farm.
Organic processors say the clamshell is preferable to bags because it offers better protection and shelf life for the baby leafy green varieties that are a staple of many organic salads.
Mark Campion, president of Taylor Farms' retail division, said club stores, for which the company packs vegetable trays and other items, have long used clamshells in their produce sections. He sees retailers catching up to the trend by offering more space for clamshell salads.
He estimates about 80% of organic salads come in clamshell packs and is seeing more conventional salad varieties make the switch.
Clamshells also mean "the consumer can pick up the product and see it looks good," Campion said.
The ever-changing variety of packaging materials is always something the industry is looking at, Campion said, with new materials always coming on the market.
Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing for Albert's Organics, Bridgeport, N.J., said another trend the company is watching is the use of corn-base materials for clamshell packaging.
"Trends are for more clamshells," Weinstein said.