This is a story about the top three design challenges in fresh produce packaging, and finding one solution to overcome them all.
Fresh food manufacturers often struggle to find a way to promote and highlight their products among the wide selection available on supermarket shelves.
Successful packaging can therefore be an enabler, helping to achieve outstanding brand differentiation. The right packaging should also boost production efficiency, optimise transport, ensure cost effectiveness and be environment-friendly. For a Turkish water melon farmer, we recently developed a solution that ticks all these boxes – a unique corrugated carton with a handle and product window for easy transportation and storage, as well as outstanding presentation possibilities. Thanks to our packaging solution, the farmer was able to enter supermarkets with his product – packaging plays a major role in retailers’ decision-making when assessing competing suppliers.
Let’s walk through our journey of facing and overcoming challenges:
With roughly one third of the food produced globally (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) going to waste, the market needs innovative solutions that prevent further food loss. In developing countries alone, 40% of food waste occurs early in the food value chain – during harvest, transport and storage.
What does this have to do with packaging? The way a product is packaged plays a big part in helping to limit the amount of discarded food. This applies in particular to fresh produce, such as water melons.
Usually supermarkets display premium water melons in plastic trays or octabins or other corrugated containers. This kind of bulk packaging cannot be stacked in trucks, occupies a lot of storage space, and is difficult to present in an appealing way. Another major challenge, for the customer, is carrying the water melon home. In many cases, water melons are placed in a plastic bag at the till – certainly not the most convenient means of transporting heavy fresh food.
Fresh food products are frequently sold completely “naked”, without any outer packaging, which reduces the opportunities for branding. As a result, fresh produce can struggle to stand out from the crowd and can get lost among the competing offers.
Keeping the challenges in mind, we were keen to find a sustainable, efficient and convenient way of overcoming them. We therefore developed a rectangular carton made from corrugated board for individual water melons – a solution that resolves all three challenges at once. Thanks to its unique shape, the produce can be stacked easily, which allows full utilisation of the available space during transport, storage and display.
The box can be assembled quickly – and broken down again at home. It comes with a handle for easy carrying, and its window gives customers a glimpse of the product inside. Additionally, thanks to a larger printing area, shelf appeal is boosted significantly. In summary, our single packed product can be stacked – so that the delivery truck doesn’t remain half empty, and presented in primary shelf positions in the store. The carton promotes a premium product with premium brand appeal. In addition, the risk of fresh produce perishing or being damaged during transit, before it can be sold, is avoided. If there is an adequate supply of a product to satisfy demand, moreover, affordable pricing will prevail.
Although the challenges presented many problems, we stuck to the task of finding an ideal packaging solution for the water melons. Now at the end of this journey, we are proud that the new packaging has significantly reduced transport costs since 50% more water melons can now be stacked on the trucks. Furthermore, the customer has reduced waste throughout its supply chain by 13%. This smart pick-up-and-go concept was successfully launched in Turkish supermarkets in 2016 and is available for the global market. The packaging has helped the farmer to enter more sales outlets and improve his profit within the premium fresh produce segment.
About the Author: Hakan Arı, who has been working in the corrugated cardboard business for over 20 years, started his career as Sales Manager at the Mondi Tire Kutsan Izmit corrugated plant. Mr. Arı is now the Operational General Manager of the Karaman and Adana plants of Mondi Tire Kutsan. He is also strengthening the reputation of Mondi Tire Kutsan as both a producer of sustainable and innovative solutions and a service-oriented packaging partner.