Packaging for fresh produce and in particular reducing the amount of plastic used has long been a hot topic, but there are many factors to consider when developing a new concept. Shelf life, protecting the product from damage and appearance and the all important environmental impact are big factors.
The Tomato Stall, based in the Isle of Wight have just introduced new packaging to the market where they have strived to cover all of these aspects.
“Our aim as a business is to continue to reduce non-recyclable materials. We have taken great strides in innovating mindful growing methods that allow us to grow our tomatoes in a sustainable way and we want our packaging to reflect this same methodology,” explains Daniella Voisey New Busines Development Manager at The Tomato Stall.
“However, this does present challenges within our fresh tomato range as flow wrapped punnets are widely used in the industry. The main selling point is this option gives consumers full visibility of the product they are buying and offers protection to the produce. This challenge is what drove our concept of designing a fully recyclable punnet with enough visibility to reassure the customer. Plus, a sturdy lidded punnet which would offer a higher level of protection to the delicate fruit inside and help reduce waste when sending products from the farm to our customers.
“We have seen lidded punnets with plastic windows and no doubt there will be several options out there, but nothing was readily accessible and offered the visibility we were looking for.”
The new pack has been trialled across several channels. Both ecommerce and bricks and mortar retail establishments. Most notably this packaging really benefits ecommerce markets due to the increased protection it offers.
The punnet is available in two sizes: a small punnet which offers an optimum pack weight of 250g-300g depending on the varieties used. The larger punnets can hold 450g-500g. The punnet is fully recyclable.
“Firstly, we had to to consider the raw material and how this was sourced. Whether it is a sustainable option or not. Hence why our punnets have the FSC logo on the pack which is the hallmark of responsible forest management.
“We also had to do quite an extensive fridge test to ensure that the cardboard did not absorb the moisture as although we know not to store the produce in the fridge, public opinion is still to put them in the fridge. Finally, we conducted shelf-life testing. Both of which showed that the cardboard punnet had no detriment to shelf-life versus a traditional cardboard punnet and film option. In fact, in the early stages, it looked like it improved shelf-life.”
The punnet is manufactured by Graphic Packaging and designed by Neil McCall.
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