The Packer’s current poll question is this:

What is the most important value associated with the terms of sustainable or sustainability?

It is interesting to see that the top vote getter so far is “earth friendly packaging,”  grabbing about 33% of the total vote.

Here are the complete results so far:

  • Earth friendly packaging 33% (16 votes)
  • Better treatment of workers 10% (5 votes)
  • Organically grown 6% (3 votes)
  • Efficient use of water and inputs 35% (17 votes)
  • Profit for the farmer 15% (7 votes)

Consumers can’t “see” that produce was grown with maximum efficiency for water and input use. As a marketer, it is hard to show a shopper that you are taking better care of your workers compared with the norm.  

The poll didn’t ask about greenhouse gas emissions, but that type of equation is difficult to connect with an individual commodity and hard to communicate to the shopper.

With the USDA seal, it is easy to show consumers that products are grown organically. At the same time, does a clamshell of organic romaine communicate "sustainable" to the hearts and minds of consumers?

Consumers see and touch produce packaging, and are likely to make snap judgments about whether a particular consumer pack is “sustainable.”  Simply  speaking, more paper and less plastic equals a greater sustainability score for retail packs of fresh produce. But are buyers willing to pay more for sustainable packaging?

In the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, I recently asked this question:

What are some fresh produce projects/initiatives related to sustainability/the environment that are meaningful, from your perspective (either from your company or another) How much do such projects “speak” to consumers compared with the trade? Do you think such efforts will increase in the next five years? What areas do you the most work #sustainability #climate-change related to sustainability?

Here were a couple of responses:

  • Considering produce is one of the worst offenders of single-use plastics, There is tremendous pressure from retailers to reduce or eliminate plastic wherever possible. However, we aren’t seeing many retailers who are willing to increase the cost to try out more sustainable packaging. It might take 1-2 large retailers testing out a higher cost product to push other’s into trying it.... same pattern e-commerce went through over the last two years.
  • I think you’re 100% correct that it takes buy side leadership to get higher cost, sustainable packaging into the supply chain in a meaningful way.  When product/packaging decisions by supermarket buyers are driven primarily by delivered cost, what producers are able to absorb these costs and watch the inevitable decline in sales and profitability?  Getting a couple top retailers on board really could  be the tipping point to widespread adoption. 


TK: While there is no doubt consumer push-back against plastic, practically speaking it is the retailer who drives the  use of sustainable packaging in the supply chain. And it seems to be happening now.





Here are some Google Trends search results related to sustainability in the last year.

Category: All categories
sustainability: (06/01/2019 - 06/01/2020, United States)


  • Sustainability
  • Natural environment
  • Sustainability reporting
  • Energy
  • Science
  • Management
  • Corporation
  • Resource
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Climate
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Plan
  • Nature
  • Industry
  • Internship
  • Academic degree
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable business
  • Climate change
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Consultant
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Environmental, social and corporate governance
  • Sustainability studies


  • Environmental, social and corporate governance
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Climate change
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Global warming
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Merit badge