When it comes to produce packaging, preserving the shelf life of the food items is the ultimate goal. Maintaining the integrity of the fruits and vegetables is important for avoiding waste, keeping customers happy, and overall production success. In this blog we’re exploring the current packaging trends in produce, from grocery delivery to automation and more.
One of the biggest trends that has been strong in food packaging for a few years is grocery delivery. Previously this was mostly used by families and tech forward millennials who were comfortable with the technology. Now it is being used by people everywhere. It has made it possible for people with compromised immune systems or elderly people to conveniently get the food they need delivered to their door making our grocery stores safer. It has also made life more convenient for people with busy lifestyles.
The packaging industry has responded by providing packaging options that help the product make it through the grocery delivery stream. Some channels are using local delivery agents to pick up the product at the local store and hand deliver it (apps like Favor and Instacart). Other companies are using traditional e-commerce streams to get the product from the warehouse to the customer.
Either way, when it comes to packaging materials for produce in grocery delivery, consumers are concerned about cross-contamination. This is why pre-wrapped options are emerging to keep produce contactless. By pre-wrapping produce, it also extends the shelf life of the produce making it easier for consumers to order in bulk.
Automation For Food Packaging
When it comes to produce in the warehouse, automation is important. Equipment can be used to perform common actions, like carton filling, to help keep the produce contactless. It can also help for the mundane processes, such as applying the small label stickers that go on many different types of produce.
Automated equipment can also assist with the primary packaging processes, such as product handling, collating, and conveying; as well as the secondary packaging processes, such as inspection, crating, and weighing.
Choosing the Right Materials
Recyclable materials is naturally one of the top concerns we hear about when it comes to sustainability. There are many ways different packaging products available in the produce aisle. But the bigger picture goes beyond the packaging materials.
Shelf life in the produce aisle is extremely important. Food waste and all of the resources that go into bringing produce to consumers all affect the eco-footprint. It’s critical that the produce stays fresh on the shelf and makes it home to the consumer.
One great example is cucumbers. People often frown upon seeing cucumbers wrapped in plastic on the shelf. However, consider this: unwrapped cucumbers have about 3-4 days of shelf life, where as wrapped cucumbers can last up to 14 or 15 days. This extends the use for the customer and makes it more practical for the supply chain.
This emphasizes that we should be focusing on finding the right materials, instead of looking to eliminate packaging altogether.