There is, of course, no discussion about the imperative that a healthy quick lunch or on-the-go snack has to consist of fresh produce, properly washed and cut, ready to eat fresh with a bit of dressing.
The principal problem for the supplier, however, is to prevent deterioration of fresh-cut produce. As I explained in my article about Modified Atmosphere Packaging processors of fresh produce deal with living, breathing organisms whose spoilage-spiral begins upon harvest. This deterioration spiral is accelerated after fresh vegetables and fruits are cut for salads. This acceleration is linked to biological processes, such as ripening. A cut is a wound. Wounds make produce ripen faster and increase its susceptibility to an attack by pathogens.
To solve this problem, aside from using Modified Atmosphere Packaging to slow down the spoilage, producers are developing mini-produce, supplying the hungry consumer by developing cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, baby veggies, baby apples, all in a size we can eat in one munch bite, without the need to pre-cut. All healthy to the core.
But what about the easy-to-go, easy-to-use packaging.
Let’s have a look at some interesting packaging innovations to serve the consumer with his healthy baby-lunch or baby-snack. No microwave needed.
Ireland – Nature’s Best Salad Shakers
Irish food company Nature’s Best launched last year, Salad Shakers, the first range to be introduced under the Nature’s Best brand name. Available in four flavours, Salad Shakers are single portion snacks in a handy tumbler containing a substantial mixed salad, and a pot of tasty dressing. The innovative range was designed with today’s health conscious, time poor consumer in mind. The consumer just opens the top, pours in as much or as little dressing as he/she wants, replaces the top, shakes it up, and eats with the enclosed fork.
Founded by Paddy Callaghan in 1986, Nature’s Best currently employs over 240 people in its purpose-built factory in Drogheda, Co. Louth, and is the main supplier of pre-packaged salad and fruit products to leading retailers in Ireland.
USA – Earthbound Farm’s Lifestyle Salad Kits
Earthbound Farm, a leading US organic produce brand, has introduced a new line of naturally nutrient-dense and all-organic salad kits of vegetables, whole grains, plant-based protein, and flavour. Packaged in eco-friendly post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET clamshells, the Lifestyle Salad Kits contain individually wrapped ingredients in easy-to-open pouches that minimize preparation time and maximize freshness while enabling individuals to add the amount of dressings and toppings they prefer.
Fresh Lifestyle Salad Kits (roughly 7oz = 200gr) include organic baby spinach, or organic mixed baby greens, alternatively organic baby lettuces. I told you a lot of baby-veggies.
It might help the American to adapt his lifestyle as according to the American Dietetic Association, the average American eats only 12 to 18 grams of fibre a day, well below the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the ADA, which also suggests that fibre intake come from a variety of plant foods. (Compare Germany where every private household consumed 142.9 kg of fresh fruit and vegetables last year)
The Netherlands – Zon’s ‘Snoepmaatjes’ or candy mates
In the autumn of 2010 Dutch Zon Fruit & Vegetables launched the product ‘Snoepmaatjes’, by the company officially translated as “snack friends”, although I personally prefer to translate it as “candy mates” as it is more appropriate.
Snoepmaatjes is a snack consisting of fresh baby-tomatoes, baby-peppers and baby-cucumbers known as healthy and enjoyable. They sit in a (in these days well-known) shaker. Due to the convenient packaging and the quantity they hold (some 250gr) the snack vegetables are perfectly suited as a healthy in between snack.
Let’s have a look at some fruit also:
Italy – La Veneta presents its new fresh-cut fruit line
After having developed an experience in fresh-cut salads, Italian Azienda Agroalimentare La Veneta, located in Loreggia (near Padova), has launched a new line of fresh-cut fruits in punnets. The shelf life of this product is about 10 days or more if preserved at 4°C. Before being packaged, the fruit pieces are washed using citric acid.
A little fork is provided inside each punnet, while the label space is on the back side, in order to let the product be always visible.
The fruit salad contains 180 gr pineapple, grapes, kiwi, apples and melon.
The above mentioned newly introduced ‘innovations’ all require the development of baby-veggies and baby-fruits. That sounds nice, but for sure the consumer pays the price, as babies are more expensive (harvesting, caring, processing) than the adult vegetables and fruits so many years we were used to. And what about the taste?
I know as I argued in the beginning of this article, that the deterioration of pre-packaged, pre-cut vegetable and fruits are spiralling after cutting. Question! Is the logical answer developing baby-products or developing a packaging which holds uncut fresh produce and includes a cutting mechanism so that the consumer cuts the produce the moment he wants to consume. Convenient and fresh.
This was the question three Israelis brought to develop the “Always Fresh Salad” packaging, a disposable vegetable or fruit salad package, in which the vegetables (fruits) are stored in a whole mode after washing. Cutting/slicing is performed by the consumer, just before consumption using a simple and intuitive cutter embedded in the package.
In my next article I come back in detail.