I ended my first article about fresh produce packaging with the promise to write in this one about lidding and liquid absorbents. But before we come to these developments, I have some recent designs in fresh produce packaging that need attention.
Fruit halves revolutionising the market
Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés launched a new range of fresh fruits sliced in halves and packed under modified atmosphere conditions by the Valencian company Vicente Peris.
Melons, watermelon, pumpkin and the like usually weight an average of 3 to 4 kilos and often end up wasted. That’s why in Spain and many Latin American countries it’s a cultural aspect to expect the fruit traders to slice the fruit (if too large to buy a whole one) in half or even less at the store. Consequently many retail chains and greengrocers are selling half pieces of melon and watermelon sliced on their own premises, without complying with food safety regulations regarding handling and storage, and that could lead to problems with salmonella or listeria.
This is very different in the other European countries, where consumers only see advantages in this concept whenever prices do not vary much with respect to those of conventional products. And so, Vicente Peris created a new packaging format adapting its product size to the consumer trends of current households, which tend to be smaller.
Peris is the only European brand that packages its products in a protective atmosphere, including its Piel de sapo (frog skin) Melon, Galia Melon, Watermelon, Pumpkin and Valencian Butter Bean. Without breaking the cold chain, the company obtains stable and hygienic quality, leading to a shelf life of up to 10 days, depending on the product.
Resealable Belgian endive box
Tomatoes and cucumbers are the frontrunners in the organic segment, as there is definitely an increasing interest in organic cultivation. More and more growers are making the switch. Belgian endive is, despite some problems in the start-up phase, not a niche product anymore.
The shelf life for Belgian endive is mainly limited by light and temperature. Light is the most important factor, turning the endive green. Green Belgian endive won’t be sold. To prevent the Belgian endive from turning green, supermarkets now often use plastic covering sheets. But customers don’t leave them in place with all consequences.
The box developed by Smart Packaging Solutions, has a lid that closes automatically, improving the shelf life of the Belgian endive. The box, which was recently introduced on the Belgian market through BelOrta, is now finding its way onto the Dutch and international, organic market. The boxes are nearly completely made from recycled materials.
The company’s focus is on the Dutch, German, Scandinavian and French market.
Nature & More’s sustainable packaging
Nature & More, the international specialist in organic vegetables and fruit, is the first company that has begun to use sustainable packaging derived from sugar cane on a large scale. The material looks like fine cardboard and beats almost all other materials when it comes to sustainability. It’s easily compostable, 100% GMO free, made of waste material, tree-friendly and plastic-free. And on top of this: the market is embracing this new development.
Nature & More has been working for two years to develop these new packaging materials. Now it is selling organic vine tomatoes, pears and physalis packaged in the sugarcane materials.
French supermarket chain Carrefour is one of Nature & More’s first clients to have opted for organic fruit and vegetables packaged with the new materials.
Nature & More is now replacing the old trays, tags, labels and stickers with the new materials. The look is clean and natural and fits perfectly with organic products. It’s plastic free. It’s made of waste material that would otherwise be burnt, resulting in pollution. Therefore it doesn’t put a claim on new land.
Nature & More is the “trace & tell” system of Eosta, leading distributor of organic fruits and vegetables in Europe.
Do we see in Europe more or more fresh produce companies using eco-friendly, renewable and natural packaging material, in the USA that’s unfortunately still a bit different. Although organic produce is also in the USA a high-flyer, the material used to package this organic produce isn’t always, or seldom, organic, compostable or natural. Look at the next one, and you wonder why the company Organic Girl LLC didn’t use a natural renewable material.
Three Heart Romaine Stand-Up Pouch with Velcro Closure
The packaging, designed by Jennie Freeman from Organic Girl LLC and manufactured by Emerald Packaging, Inc. is a two-layer stand-up pouch with a handle to make it easier for the consumer to grab it off the shelf.
It features a Velcro closure to make the package easier to close compared to a string zipper. The matte finish adds to the gloss of the package, helping it stand out in the graphic saturated produce section of the grocery store. This package stands up as opposed to the previous clamshell, catching the consumer’s eye.
Antifog prevents moisture build-up on the inside of the bag allowing consumers to see the produce.
The next one is a better example of eco-friendly packaging. Not quite as it could have been, had Emerald used ‘green’ PE.
Potato Starch Film for Potato Bags
Like the Organic Girl stand-up pouch, this potato bag also is manufactured by Emerald Packaging, Inc. and designed by Michael Ricon.
This product represents a breakthrough in sustainable films as the 5 lb. bag is partly made from a renewable resource: potatoes. The 25% potato resin and 75% polyethylene mixture developed by Emerald Packaging and Biologiq of Idaho Falls, ID, produces a film that is actually stronger than a 100% polyethylene based film typically used for potato bags, thereby allowing for down-gauging of up to 10%. This film has many other possible uses including as a white sealant and other packaging that does not require absolute clarity.
And the last one I have just is an ordinary un-recyclable stand-up pouch. I can’t shake off the impression that in Europe a company for fresh produce is looking and experimenting more often with renewable packaging material, compared to their American counterparts. Although organic produce and similar is a growing market in the USA, presenting that fresh product in packaging made from renewable resources seems still to be the exception.
Green Giant Fresh Brussels Sprouts
Robbie Flexibles created for Green Giant Fresh Brussels Sprouts a laminated stand-up pouch using Expanded Colour Gamut printing. The crisp graphics increase consumer appeal and brand recognition on store shelves and project a high quality product image.
This packaging eliminates the risk of contamination and protects the product freshness through micro-perforations for OTR control.
So these were the last novelties in fresh produce packaging. I keep the lidding of fresh produce containers, as well as the liquid absorbents for a next article and the fast-developing laser labelling of fresh produce for a separate article.