Biggest changes in produce packaging? Let us count the ways

Biggest changes in produce packaging? Let us count the ways

I have discussed the results of an online survey we put out in conjunction with The Packer’s 125th-anniversary publication several times in this space. There are a couple of questions to review yet, and today the topic is packaging.

We posed this question to the industry:

What are the biggest changes in produce packaging in the last 25 years?

  • The change from bulk produces to marketing produce as branded and packaged;
  • Longer shelf life and compostability/biodegradation;
  • Clamshells designed specifically for the products they hold and RPC and pooled pallets;
  • More work needs to be done :(;
  • Control with quality control in getting the consumers fair warning when there is a problem;
  • The explosion of packaging from primarily bulk items to everything being in some sort of packaging. This includes innumerable niche items also, that you might have only seen at a local farm stand;
  • Too much of it and now it will be eliminated greatly to the benefit of all;
  • Clamshells, Breathing packages,  Tectrol;
  • Year round availability, Food safety, Water (clean sources and conservation);
  • Modified atmosphere packaging;
  • Measuring respiration rates and designing optimal packaging for each product;
  • More product than ever being prepackaged and meeting with great success due to the improvements in the materials in use;
  • Mechanization and labor savings in the growing and packing operations;
  • Some movement to plastic reduction/elimination;;
  •  Innovation of retail packaged salads;
  • Breatheable technology which has increased shelf life thru managing respiration rates, giving retailer confidence in being able to sell more without increasing shrink;
  • Gas permeable packages and giving the fresh cut business in both fruit and veggies a place to grow;
  • Smart films and packaging that enable greater use of precut, convenience items. Increase in packaging overall, leading to greater ability to brand and market;
  • Bar codes, plastic dependency, GMO Vs. Natural/organic;
  • Sustainability and use of recyclable products that may offer added benefits such as antimicrobials embedded in the packaging material;
  • Corrugated cartons;
  • Clamshells for berries and tomatoes, grape/cherry bags, source-wrapped/ packaged lettuce and celery;
  •  Autobaggers;
  • A greater variety of package sizes giving the consumer more choices leading to greater chance of sales;
  • Use of PLU stickers to identify varieties at check out;
  • Getting rid of all the plastic!; and 
  • Modified atmosphere packaging.


TK: Is there “too much” packaging or have we only just begun? The melding of convenience and environmental attributes seems certain to accelerate in the years ahead.


See coverage of other survey questions in previous blog posts.

Pick three - changes coming in the next 25 years

Nothing new under the sun? Not so fast, my friend

What is the future of produce wholesalers? Survey says..

If only my business had...

Industry weighs in on changes to come in retailing

What’s the most important industry development?

Blaming it on the fax; the biggest change agents in the past 25 years