What’s New In Fresh Produce Packaging – 01

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In my article about the recent FruitLogistica 2015 in Berlin I gave a round-tour of how fresh produce is packaged in these days. It’s obvious that the 2015 consumer anxious to follow a fresh, healthy and sustainable life-style requires seeing this reflected in packaging.

The 2015 consumer (Millennials and Z-Gen) are in many ways more demanding than previous generations of consumers and they expect products to be fresh, healthy and sustainable throughout the full value chain. This is a strong message not only to offer the products as fresh as possible, but also to use sustainable packaging from natural and/or renewable sources.

A new Viewpoint report from Stora Enso shows that Millennials are more prone to purchase eco-friendly products than older generations. Four out of five Millennials consider packaging as important when making purchasing decisions and 85% of Millennials consider packaging material part of the brand experience, compared to 71% among non-Millennials.

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Furthermore the report concludes that 44% of Millennials are willing to pay a premium for products with sustainable packaging and they consider fibre-based packaging materials to be by far the most sustainable packaging material choice.
You can download the full report here.

I have a whole range of recent innovations in fresh produce packaging, in terms of eco-corrugated boxes, shelf-life extending lidding, liquid absorbers, laser labelling of fruit and some more. I probably need three articles to cover them all. We start with living fruit.

Nurture: Living Fruit Basket
For this item I quote what the designer Hyunhee Hwang from London writes about this project on his website.

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“The ‘Nurture’ is a concept of living fruit basket package for fresh nutrition consumption for health-oriented consumers. This project began with a curiosity of the meaning of the term ‘fresh’ in the food industry. Based on research, people highly attentive to a healthy diet tend to expect high quality nutrition from their fresh food consumption.

In order to satisfy them with genuine health benefits from fresh produce, the Nurture suggests a daily harvest of Superfruits that are well-known for high nutritional value such as Acerola cherries, berries, and figs. However, they are difficult to transport due to fragility, have a short shelf-life and issues with storage.

The aim of Nurture is to provide the freshest nutrition consumption to fulfil the recommended daily allowance equivalent to health supplements in the most natural format. The fruits in Nurture are designed to be nestled within their own roots in the form of a basket in order to keep them alive and fresh efficiently till the time of consumption.

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Consumers can buy them weekly, and nurture them with minimal moisturizing in order to ingest specific nutrient. Also, provided are kitchenware tools that are specially designed with instructions on preventing nutrition loss from the process of picking, washing, and drying of the fruits”.

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Tomatoes packaged in own stalk
The Greenery from Holland had a real world first at the FruitLogistica 2015. A paperboard packaging made from fibres from tomato stalks was presented for the first time. Duijvestijn tomatoes are packaged in the bio-based box. Not unrelated, this Greenery grower was chosen as the winner of the Tomato Inspiration Award 2015 at the fair.

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According to The Greenery it is an innovation which came to turn a discarded plant into a high value product. The stalks are used to produce the boxes and the leaves for smaller packaging. There is also a plan to extract raw materials from the plant juices for bio-plastics. The box is a development by Biobased Westland and is produced by Smurfit-Kappa.
The development with bio-based packaging will cause a revolution in the packaging industry.

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The technical properties of this packaging are no less than those of a conventional box. Because tomato fibres have been used, the box can be recycled multiple times. Even more than a standard carton box which increases the sustainability factor even more.

Clementines FruitPack
Ripe-to-You, specializing in distinctive citrus is located in the Central San Joaquin Valley of California, an area with a long history of agriculture. Its new Clementines FruitPack, manufactured by Graphic Packaging Intl. is a breakthrough design offering a new way to package produce. Whereas less-sustainable packaging solutions for produce generally lack billboard space, this folding carton features a large billboard, allowing for attractive graphics that increase visual impact and appetite appeal. Furthermore, its built-in handle makes for easy carrying, stacking, and displaying at retail. It also works with existing distribution processes, leaving current supply chain systems undisturbed.

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With this FruitPack Graphic Packaging took the Eco Award, which identifies it as a potentially “game-changing” packaging, as it’s expected that it will replace less sustainable substrates such as fish-net plastic mesh or plastic film, with renewable, recyclable paperboard.

Although consumers know that fruits and vegetables are good for them, this knowledge has not translated into increased sales over the past years. With this in mind, produce growers are finally reconsidering their packaging strategies by looking to packaging materials that will more readily impact consumers. And here is where paperboard comes in.

Firstly, as the Stora-Enso report quoted above concludes, as compared to other substrates, paperboard’s green, sustainable ethos is not only in perfect alignment with the ideas of the consumer but also underscored the obvious nutritional benefits of fruits and veggies.

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Secondly, not only do paper-based substrates provide excellent billboard space and rich visual and tactile stimulation that encourages appetite appeal, but paperboard’s flat surface is also ideal for displaying QR codes and augmented reality, value-added components that provide consumers with additional information such as recipes or place of origin information.

Apple Baguette
Packaging Budelpack from Holland recently got involved actively with the packaging of agricultural products. The first step was the development of an on-site packaging line able to pack fruit and vegetables. The process of getting acquainted with the packing of fresh produce led to innovative packaging for fruit, resulting in the “baguette”.

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The design process resulted in the “baguette” package, developed for apples, but at a later stage also to be used for other fruits. The paperboard packaging offers more protection to the apple, as well as more communication space.

There were several ideas, but this particular design was chosen because of its natural look, the innovative design, the stacking ability of the packaging and the printing options.
The “baguette” provides protection to one or more apples, which are stored in separate compartments. For a variety of sizes, the diameter of the package can be adjusted.

My last item of this first edition of packaging fresh produce isn’t really fresh produce in the exact definition of the word. But it’s close by, and I think it to be an interesting development in the fresh fruit aisle of every supermarket.

Big Slice Kettle-Cooked Apples
Designed by HOSS Creative Intelligence, these kettle-cooked apples are sealed in square stand-up pouches. The printed graphics are a clear patterned apple, while a leaf sits atop, with a playful adjective transcribed onto it.

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Big Slice Apples started out making big chunky apples slices slowly cooked in their own naturally sweet sauce, and then had a ground-breaking idea, i.e. package the kettle-cooked apples in a shelf-stable “on-the-go” pouch.
The main goal of the packaging was to capture all that rich, natural taste and flavour of Grandma’s authentic Heritage Recipe, inviting its way into the hearts of consumers craving to enjoy delicious cooked apples while on the run.

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The product is a marriage of modern taste and old-fashioned quality. Small batches are produced with only the finest ingredients. Indulgence, but still under 100 calories, 100% natural, non-GMO.

Next article about lidding of fruit packaging and liquid absorbents, both products for securing an extended shelf-life. And after that one, we will discuss the new technologies in laser labelling of naked fruit.

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