The Unsung Hero of strawberry packing, the Packaging
Whether you’re eating imported, local, or even growing your own fresh strawberries, make sure you don’t end up throwing out the fruits of your labour. Besides being a waste of money, time and energy, uneaten fruits and veggies that end up in landfills are one of the main sources of greenhouse gases in North America. Proper packaging reduces food lost to spoilage and the amount of waste created every day.
The statistics are staggering:
Over half of all edible strawberries grown in Ontario are lost to spoilage — discarded in processing, transportation, supermarkets and household kitchens.1 As much as $31 billion in total food is thrown away in Canada each year2, with almost half occurring in the home. The average four-person household throws out roughly $1,500 of food each year3.
When we discard food, all the resources to grow, ship and produce it are wasted as well, including massive volumes of water and energy. In the US alone, the amount of water loss from food waste is like leaving the tap running and pouring 40 trillion litres of water down the drain.
various fruits and vegetables packed in clear plastic trays in retail shelf for sale
The Naked Truth About How Food Packaging Can Help You Waste Less Food
88% of people believe that food packaging is a bigger problem than food waste itself, but when we consider the CO2 emission rates, we see that packaging is responsible for 11% and food waste is responsible for 89%. The reality of the situation is much different than consumer perception. Food waste is a massive problem in North America and food packaging can help. Food Packaging is the safety net for food that helps to protect and cushion it during transport. The proper packaging also saves and extends the life cycle of that product, which in turn helps to reduce waste.
“Without today’s advanced food packaging nearly 85% of all fresh foods would not make it to market because of damage and spoilage.”
Getting food product from field, to processing, to packaging and to market is a complicated and rigorous process and can be a rough ride. Once the food is eventually packaged, the odds of that product getting to the consumer in as made condition is increased exponentially with the right choice of packaging. Today’s specialty Food Packaging allows packaged foods to be protected from physical damage, light, air and temperature changes. Cutting edge protective food films and containers allow fruits and vegetables to properly exchange gases to keep them ‘alive’ for extended periods of time, which allows consumers more time to enjoy them.
Today’s Packaging choices are more environmentally friendly and have a real relationship with the food they are protecting. Without today’s advanced food and produce packaging, nearly 85% of all fresh foods would not make it to market because of damage and spoilage.
Proper packaging can help extend shelf life, reduce damages and increase the consumer perception of your strawberries. But which type of packaging is right for your berries?
strawberries and raspberries packed in GrowPack lidding film
Top Seal Packaging
Top seal or lidded tray packaging is one of the most popular packaging formats across Europe. Top seal packaging is an environmentally friendly packaging option with the ability to reduce packaging materials by 25%. Top seal packaging can be developed with a variety of films and seal types and is adaptable for modified atmosphere options to increase shelf life. Lidding films offer growers and packers increased messaging options and can be printed in a variety of colours. Peal and re-seal films can be used to increase packaging usability and provide consumers with a container for washing and storing their strawberries.
Clamshell packaging is the go-to packaging type for strawberries. These containers are made from rigid plastics and will come with a lid made from the same material. Usually, the lid will be attached to the container itself, preventing it from being misplaced. These containers have engineered venting to enable healthy gas exchanges with the benefit of a hard-exterior shell. The protective outer shell protects the strawberries during transport prevents bruising and damage to the berries. The clamshell also provides consumers with a usable container for washing and storing their fresh strawberries.
strawberries packed in clear clamshell growpack produce packaging container
strawberries packed in various on the go growpack produce packaging containers
On the Go Containers
On the go packaging is one of the largest emerging markets in fresh fruit and vegetable packaging. Research shows that there is a growing number of snackers who rely on quick and easy meal replacements and snacks for their daily food intake. GrowPack On The Go containers offer growers and packers innovative new packaging options for this fast-paced, growing market.
The traditional form of strawberry packaging. The berry basket is often seen as the harbinger of fresh. These fibre trays are used by local growers who sell their berries quickly, to local retailers and farmers markets. These trays use engineered ventilation that promotes the healthy exchange of gases that cycle out the gases that cause spoiling for fresh air. These baskets are often paired with a plastic film top to prevent spillage.
Strawberries are the sought after item in your market - make sure you package them right
People come from all around to your farm for those sweet strawberries - a flavour hard to beat during the season. Often picked in wet and warm conditions, strawberries need to get to the cooler quick to get the heat out and preserve the shelf life. Having the right strawberry packaging can make all the difference!
Perhaps you need packaging for your pick-your-own strawberry market? Strawberry baskets, pails, and bags are all great packaging options for your customers to enjoy their day out and take their treats home with them.
We have multiple options for strawberry packaging - cardboard boxes, PET clamshells, and open top strawberry containers all do the trick depending on how you want to package them.
New Packaging Film Can Keep Strawberries Fresh For 12 Days
Whether they are decorating a cake or becoming an entire meal with cream and sugar, it is hard to resist fresh strawberries during the summer. Every year, Americans consume an average of 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries. However, keeping them fresh is a challenge because strawberries only last one to two days when left on the counter and up to seven days in the refrigerator. Now, a new packaging film promises to keep strawberries fresh longer.
Keeping Strawberries Fresh
Researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Canada wanted to create packaging that would keep strawberries fresh for a longer period of time because they are delicate. They made a film from shellfish shells, essential oils and nanoparticles that can protect strawberries and keep them fresh up to 12 days.
The main ingredient in the film is chitosan, a sugar derived from the outer skeleton of shellfish and a food industry byproduct. Chitosan has antifungal properties, and the other ingredients in the film have antimicrobial properties. They protect the strawberries from fungi and other pathogens that can cause the fruit to spoil early.
Tests showed that the new strawberry film can protect strawberries from Aspergillus niger (mold), Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes. Other tests showed that using irradiation also prolonged the shelf life of strawberries and increased polyphenols (antioxidants).
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Researchers think the new film can be added to blotting paper in strawberry packaging to reduce the amount of fresh produce that is wasted every year. One study found that Americans waste 31.9% of the food they buy, which costs $1,866 per household and $240 billion total per year across the country.
Perishable items, such as strawberries, tend to end up in the trash more frequently than other types of food. The healthy and fresh produce that everyone is encouraged to eat simply does not last and spoils first.
Although fresh fruit and vegetables have short shelf lives even with proper storage and care, researchers have not given up on finding a way to extend their lifespan in the kitchen. New packaging could keep fruit fresh longer, so less of it ends up wasted.
Strawberry Industry Benefits From Direct Pack’s Active Cool Berry Packaging Technology
Active Cool AC-1 - strawberry container
DPI’s latest patented innovation, the Active Cool strawberry container AC-1, brings both sustainability and cooling to the fresh strawberry industry. It is important to cool the strawberries as quickly as possible after picking, to maintain freshness and increase shelf life. Current theory proposes that the more venting the clamshell has, the faster the cooling. DPI is now introducing Active Cool, which has venting holes strategically placed to maximize airflow even in the corrugated trays used for transportation. Studies show that this cooling process is considerably faster than if you use traditional vents.
Active Cool AC-1 and Shipper - strawberry container
The new container is made of post-consumer recycled PET beverage bottles, and has been designed with 6% less material, making it one of the most sustainable alternatives in the market. Its square design also allows for enhanced merchandising, with seven instead of six containers facing the consumer on the shelf. Harvesting crews prefer AC-1 for fast packing and a more uniform face pack.
Clamshells still dominate strawberry packaging for retail, e-commerce
Clamshell packaging is still dominant for California strawberries, marketers say, but there is industry investment in sustainable packaging options. Marketers are also watching a shift in consumer preferences toward 2-pound clamshells during the pandemic.
“I still see the clamshell as the predominant package with perhaps the 2-pound container gaining a bigger share of market at retail,” said Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries Inc.
“We saw significant growth in the 2-pound clamshells as consumers shopped less often (and) purchased larger packs for their families at home,” said Cindy Jewell, marketing representative for Bobalu Berries, Oxnard, Calif. “We are watching this trend closely to see if this is a long term shift or a COVID blip.”
Clamshell containers work perfectly with e-commerce, Grabowski said. “It fits right in with all the other packaged goods one can order online.”
E-commerce is a definite trend to watch, said Jason Fung, vice president of berries and greenhouse categories for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia. “We’re looking to develop packs that use less or recyclable plastic, or compostable materials that have the durability for the e-commerce channel,” Fung said. “It’s a big problem to try and solve, but it’s something that we’re working on very actively.”
Photo Naturipe Berry Farms
Sustainable strawberry packaging
Frances Dillard, vice president of brand and produce marketing for Watsonville-based Driscoll’s said the company is investing in sustainable packaging innovation. E-commerce hasn’t changed the way it packages, but Dillard said online grocery has made Driscoll’s brand power and trust even more important.
Using clamshell labels with adhesives that release during the recycling process is one way that Main Street Produce is evolving its packaging program, said Roger Privett III, sales and business development manager for the Santa Maria, Calif.-based company. “Doing this has transformed our clamshells into being fully recyclable,” he said. “Over the next couple of years, I see expanded use of the corrugated clamshells.”
Salinas, Calif.-based Red Blossom has made a proactive push toward increasing its packaging sustainability, said Michelle Deleissegues, director of marketing. “In 2020 we committed to 100% recyclable ready PET thermoform clamshells that can be recycled with PET bottles,” she said. “The game changer was investing in a 100% recyclable BOPP label with a degradable adhesive. Our 2021 labels call out their 100% recyclability with further details inside the packaging,” she said. “Red Blossom is also a proud partner in the Berry Sustainable initiative by the California Strawberry Commission.”