All Wrapped Up: Why Fresh Produce Packaging Matters
Consumer trends come and go, but some stand the test of time and impact the ways in which we think about fresh produce. One overarching trend that remains prevalent is consumer demand for less-processed foods, especially foods available in convenient, smaller-sized packages—and that’s where fresh produce packaging comes into play. Fresh produce packaging has many benefits. One major benefit is durability, which allows for gentler handling of the product and can help extend shelf life—both of which are key in helping maintain product quality and integrity. The right packaging—from cartons and clamshells, to bags and trays—can prevent damage to produce not only during transit from farm to the retailer’s shelf, but also from the retailer’s shelf to the customer’s basket, thus resulting in reduced shrinkage and food waste. Another benefit to fresh produce packaging is the real estate it provides for educational information—like nutritional values or cooking and “how to” instructions—and inspirational content, such as recipe ideas. High-impact packaging is a great way to connect with consumers on a more personalized level, and it can help set an item apart from other similar products; for example, leveraging other departments within the store for opportunities to cross-merchandise. In addition to shrink reduction, fresh produce packaging can help eliminate ring errors at the register with the use of UPC labels versus PLU stickers, which often become mislabeled. With freshness, quality, and consumer trends in mind, Robinson Fresh® saw the opportunity to create better operational efficiencies, and with that, invested in a new Flow Wrap machine. Instead of a manual, hands-on process, asparagus now travels on a conveyor belt for swift packaging. With these enhanced efficiencies, we have the ability to not only meet consumer demand, but we can also increase quality assurance and decrease food safety issues with less handling of the asparagus stalks. In addition to operational efficiencies, we had the opportunity to enhance the plastic material used to make the bags. The new packaging provides consumers with a clear view of the asparagus, allowing for better visibility to the quality of the product they are purchasing. With the ability to produce a wide range of pack sizes—8oz, 12oz, 1lb, 1.5lbs, 2lbs—we are better able to cater to our retailers, which in turn, allows them to better cater to their customers. To wrap up (no pun intended), packaged options can be an integral player in our industry by allowing convenience-focused consumers an alternative to bulk produce. I would like to hear your take on the subject, so please share your thoughts in the comments section.