“The trend we are seeing lately is that the consumers place higher value on the packaging of a product – which means more natural packaging, with less plastic. We see that customers purchase more environmentally friendly products than ones that are not.” This statement came from Kenneth Blicher, managing director of the Danish import company EMA'S. This company focuses on the importation of exotic fruits and vegetables with its main suppliers being located in Malaysia, China, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and Peru.
Ginger is imported loose and on racks to reduce use of plastic
“Our company’s focus is on rethinking things and finding new solutions with regard to eco-friendly packaging,” Blicher says. “We look at where we can reduce the importation of plastic. Last year we launched a ‘plastic reduction’ project to specifically focus on reducing our environmental impact through the importation of ginger from China. We have focused our import of ginger from China to be in recycle/return crates, or loose on recyclable racks. We are currently working on new plastic reduction programs with our suppliers in Thailand and Malaysia.
Blicher goes on to explain that the issue of packaging is two-sided: “The problem is embedded both in how we import products and in how we then distribute them. We as a company have to focus on what we bring into the country with regard to plastic waste but we also have to take care that the product packaging for the supermarkets is up to the same standards. Supermarkets have a variety of systems and while we might bring things in as bulk items, they mostly have to be repacked to suit the needs of the retailers and the customers. This is why it is important that we develop a more eco-friendly mindset, market, and demand locally, just like we ask our suppliers to do on their end.”
The company’s environmental focus extends beyond packaging; they also work to supply the demand for organic produce. “Most of our imports are conventional produce, but we do also import organic produce. We have a successful alliance with Peru from which we import exotic organic fruits such as maracuyas (passion fruit), grenadilla and upcoming tamarillo.” When asked if they expect growth in the organic produce market, Blicher responds: “Organic is here to stay and will continue growing, but it is a niche-market. It will slowly but surely continue to expand.”
The company works very closely with their current suppliers and is dedicated to aiding their suppliers in growing, adapting, and improving so that they can follow into the environmental footsteps of the company.