- October 25, 2004, pffc-online.com
ANAHEIM, CA, USA — Fresh-cut produce processor Club Fresh, West Sacramento, CA, USA, is giving its pre-cut fruits and vegetables “all-natural” appeal by pairing them with NatureWorks PLA packaging, says NatureWorks PLA manufacturer Cargill Dow.
"One of the first in the fast-growing, fresh-cut marketplace to use the 100-percent corn-based packaging, Club Fresh is pioneering NatureWorks PLA with its ready-to-eat staples, including cut melon, fruit mixes, and diced vegetables," explains Cargill Dow. "Sold under the Club Fresh banner, these 'fresh-in-natural' products are available in container sizes ranging from 7- to 48-ounces."
Club Fresh is now in the process of introducing its pre-cut products in NatureWorks PLA to the retailers it serves in California and northern Nevada. Club Fresh VP of sales and marketing John Carr believes the nature-based packaging will be an effective point of differentiation for its fresh-cut products.
“Nature-based packaging appeals to the type of consumer that buys fresh-cut fruits and vegetables — the shopper that is pressed for time, but still wants to bring home wholesome and natural food for his or her family," Carr explains.
According to Cargill Dow, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables are two of the fastest-selling items in US grocery stores. "The International Fresh Cut Produce Association (IFPA) reports fresh-cut vegetables recorded $1.4 billion in annual retail sales. The fresh-cut fruit category saw $300 million in annual retail sales, and is likely to surpass the $1 billion mark over the next three to four years," states Cargill's press release.
Despite record-breaking sales, the IFPA estimates fresh-cut produce represents only a 13 percent penetration of the total fresh produce market. "Effective merchandising — including packaging — is key to sustaining the fresh-cut category's remarkable growth," says Lisa Owen, global business leader for rigid packaging at Cargill Dow.
“Demand for convenience foods has been the big driver behind the tremendous growth of the fresh-cut industry,” Owen adds. “But with obesity and health concerns top-of-mind, produce shoppers also care deeply about the quality and freshness of their foods. Creative produce offerings, such as Club Fresh's, will help grocers capitalize on consumer interest in healthy, convenient foods, and add stopping power at the point of sale.”
Cargill Dow reports the nature-based containers being used by Club Fresh are NaturesPLAstic JustFresh bowls manufactured by Wilkinson Manufacturing Company, Fort Calhoun, NE, USA. "Like those made of petroleum-based plastic, the JustFresh bowls are glossy and clear to showcase perishables to their best. The performance attributes of NatureWorks PLA make the containers slightly more flexible, which helps the lids maintain a tight-fitting seal to reduce shrink and preserve appearance, flavor, aroma, and texture. This means customers have fresh, wholesome pre-cut fruits and vegetables that can be sold and served for longer periods," adds the manufacturer.
Additional PFFC coverage of Cargill Dow's NatureWorks PLA is available at Green Stands for Go (pffc-online.com/flex_pack/paper_green_stands_go/index.html), Stanley Sacharow's April 2003 feature story about Italian converter Sacchettificio Turconi.
Learn more about NatureWorks PLA at natureworkspla.com.