Del Monte Offers Green Consumers Compostable Alternatives
By Jennifer Acevedo
When Del Monte launched its line of fresh-cut fruit in Natureworks PLA packaging in 2004, it was one of the first brands in the category to make the switch to a compostable material. At the time, Wild Oats Market was the only retailer to house all of its Del Monte fresh-cut produce in the PLA material, which is made from 100 percent annually renewable resources. But two years later and after strong consumer response, Del Monte has announced it will significantly expand its use of the nature-based packaging.
By the end of this year, about half of all containers for the brand’s fresh-cut produce will be made from the corn-based material. Retailers will be given the option of choosing from containers made from PLA or from petroleum-based plastic containers. Del Monte will also be gradually incorporating the packaging into its full line of products.
“We are very pleased with initial consumer feedback and look forward to continuing to offer Del Monte products in environmentally friendly packaging,” says Juan Carlos Sague, Sr., the company’s Fresh Produce senior packaging manager. “This was one of the main reasons behind our decision to extend our line of products in PLA packaging to the entire retail market.”
The brand’s early move to PLA also reinforces its image as an innovator and a quick adopter of new technology, says Matt Smith, vice president–marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce. “We spend large sums on environmental programs, primarily in our growing operations. The use of PLA demonstrates our willingness to act and take reasonable risks.”  
Smith says Del Monte sees PLA, which has the same functionality and appearance as PET but is compostable in a controlled setting, as a win-win for consumers and retailers looking to reinforce their commitment to environmental responsibility.
“The biggest impact is on those customers who are interested in using their purchase dollars to buy from responsible vendors. The PLA message resonates well for this market segment. Del Monte recognizes that consumers are concerned about the environment, and we recognize our obligation and responsibility to protect it.”
To educate consumers on the benefits of the material, Del Monte works with retailers to customize a message delivered through on-pack identification, point-of-sale materials and publicity.
“We pride ourselves on being environmentally responsible,” says Smith, “and PLA has allowed us to do something that is more visible and tangible to consumers of our products.”  BP
The author, Jennifer Acevedo, is the Editor-in-Chief of BRANDPACKAGING magazine.
Where to go for more information...
Compostable plastic packaging. At Natureworks LLC, call 877.423.7659 or visit