As we move into fall when foods fresh from harvest abound, this season really is the perfect time for nature’s candy, produce. And while we still grab the unwrapped pieces from the store or market, we also pick the packaged varieties for easy snacking and on the go meals. Packaging for produce is a growing market. According to a new study from The Freedonia Group (freedoniagroup.com), U.S. demand for produce packaging is forecast to increase 3.3% per year to $5.7 billion in 2017.
And while produce as a whole is growing, fruit applications are expected to see growth outpacing the overall produce packaging average. According to analyst Esther Palevsky, this growth will be “supported by population growth, trends toward healthier eating and the increased availability of ready-to-eat fruit marketed for convenience and as a healthy snack option.”
Gains for vegetable applications are expected to slightly trail the average, though advances will be assisted by improved output and ongoing new product introductions of fresh-cut vegetables in nontraditional categories.
As far as materials used in produce packaging is concerned, plastic containers are forecast to experience the fastest gains among major packaging types. According to the study, advances will be propelled by growth in berry applications and widening usage with other produce items. Although bag and liner demand is expected to increase at a slightly faster pace than the overall produce
packaging average, faster growth will occur for breathable bags in fresh-cut produce uses. Heightened demand is anticipated for pouches, which, in addition to being less expensive than rigid containers, are valued for being display-ready and offering good aesthetics, which can be helpful in produce merchandising.
Whether you say tomato or “to-mah-to”, cherry and grape tomatoes are popular choices for snacking, salad toppings and dipping. Earlier this year, Pure Flavor launched an exclusive “all-in-one” oval packaging for snacking tomatoes. This new packaging will hold a mixture of Pure Flavor’s popular tomatoes, including Juno Bites, Sangria Medley, Azuca cherry tomatoes and their new Bumbles yellow snacking tomatoes.
The oval clamshells are designed for the convenience of retailers and consumers alike. The package gives retailers the option of stacking multiple layers of clamshells to maximize shelf space in the store or the new “vertical – stack” option which features the clamshell displayed in an upright position. Not only is this new packaging a great choice for retailers, but consumers are also sure to love this easy “all-in-one” package. The packaging acts as a washing tray as well as a serving container for easy snacking.
While we may not be able to get this new package here in the U.S, as a beet lover I hope it is a sign of things to come. OneHarvest has just introduced Australians to a line of vacuum packed, ready-to-eat, fresh baby beetroot called LOVE BEETS. Peeled and freshly cooked in their own juices, with no added sugar or salt, the beets are ready to be eaten as they are or ready to use on a salad, burger and just about any recipe calling for beets.
They are available in the fresh food section at over 1,400 stores across Australia, including leading supermarkets and greengrocers. Helen Warren, marketing manager for Love Beets, says that Australians love beetroot, and “the value of the canned market is approximately $43 million per year. However, the fresh beetroot market is still a relatively small market. Our research shows us that people love the taste of fresh beetroot and they want to cook with it, inspired by the recipes they are seeing in food magazines, and the dishes they are seeing in cafes, restaurants and on cooking shows. But they don’t know how to prepare or cook it; find it messy and just too hard. LOVE BEETS solves all of those problems for them – it is convenient, easy and no-mess,” says Warren.
Warren also states that retailers have embraced the product and are really excited by its potential. I am guessing that consumers are excited too for a fresher approach to packaged beets.
Salads are still a dinner table staple in most homes and in recent years have become an on-the-go lunch staple, as well. Two companies have launched more salad varieties to appeal to consumer demand. Ruby Fresh’s new Salad Jewels are packaged toppings that consumers add to their favorite greens. The product line features three varieties and two sizes, a 7-ounce family pack and 3.5-ounce individual size. Inside both packages, the ingredients are individually packaged for ultimate freshness. The contents are then surrounded by a chipboard sleeve with die-cut windows so that consumers can see the package contents. The emerald (rectangular) cut shape of the jewel line allows for more product stacking on store shelves and really catches the consumer’s eye.
Another new salad introduction offers consumers the “it” green right now: kale. Ready Pac Foods, Inc. (readypac.com) introduces a new salad into their Bistro Bowl salad line, the Baby Kale Turkey Cranberry Bistro® Bowl. This complete salad bowl features everything you need for the perfect salad meal; baby kale, diced turkey, sliced almonds, whole cranberries and red apple poppy seed dressing. According to Ready Pac, fresh prepared foods is topping the list for 2014 consumer and culinary trends nationwide, serving to complement the fast-paced lifestyles among consumers who are increasingly unwilling to sacrifice quality and healthfulness for convenience.
Produce packaging is heating up store shelves with breakthroughs to make eating healthy more convenient and fun. Packaged fruit and vegetables save consumers prep time and allow for healthier eating on the go. Prepped and packaged salads take the work right out of preparing meals, thanks to the all-in-one options now adorning store shelves. It has never been easier to get the recommended five servings a day, proving that more than ever, fresh is in.