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Setting the Table: Improving Agricultural Efficiency Through Food Packaging

Innovation in food packaging is working to advance sustainability in agriculture, improving the shelf life and damage rates of food products throughout processing and transport.

Executive summary:

Consumer attitudes towards healthy, sustainable foods are having an effect on the packaging and transportation of agricultural products.

  • With an eye on sustainability, food packaging must comply with producers’ containment, protection, and identification needs.
  • The future of food packaging in the agriculture industry will be defined by innovation in packaging technology, with an emphasis on adaptability and protection for the fruits and vegetables consumers crave.

There are currently more than 1,500 various types of packaging available to produce packers in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow as more food packaging innovations go to market. New concepts and materials are being developed every day, a key indicator that food packers and distributors are hungry for more innovative packaging solutions.

Pregis agriculture solutions are primarily focused on protecting the soft fruits and vegetables that don’t have thick skins. Solutions for these products, including grapes, avocados, raspberries, strawberries, and many more, require an in-depth knowledge of how each can be transported and what level of impact will cause damage. Proper packaging also requires impeccable timing, ensuring the right solutions are available at the right time to guarantee consumers receive the ripest fruit.

Absorbent protective paper cushioning, bubble air cushioning, and produce trays are all part of Pregis’ line-up of products for the agriculture sector, each of which can be used in combination to create the perfect packaging for fresh produce.

 

How Innovation Drives the Food Packaging Industry

In order to bring greater efficiency to agricultural processing and distribution, food loss must be taken into account. That’s why the packaging of soft fruits and vegetables, like cherries, apples, and blueberries, can get tricky. Known for their health benefits, these products are always in high demand — the downside is they represent a significant challenge for growers, as they’re easily damaged in both the packaging and transport stages of distribution.

In industrialized nations, a significant portion of discarded food comes from losses during harvest, sorting, grading, and transportation. Losses during processing are even higher (14 percent to 21 percent) in developing regions. Overall, about 30 percent of the food produced for human consumption around the world is lost or discarded along the supply chain. Both farmers and consumers could benefit from better packaging and distribution.

For larger soft fruits and vegetables like avocados, peaches, pears, and plums, Pregis Panta Pak® Trays are the leading packaging solution for food processors, featuring nearly 20 varieties to fit boxes of various sizes. These thermoformed trays protect food products with smooth individual compartments that can limit damage and extend the life of soft-skinned vegetables or fruit. For long trips to international markets, Panta Pak Trays can also be outfitted with bubble cushioning and layered with air pillows to prevent damage during transport.

For food products that don’t fit neatly into trays, Sleevit foam sleeves can be individually fitted to prevent damage and spoilage. Cushioned sleeves like these are ideal for exotic produce, mangoes, and melons — really anything with an odd shape that requires a soft touch.

Much of the agriculture industry still manually processes products like fruits and vegetables for shipment, so Sleevit foam sleeves are designed to be thinner at one end to prevent a given product from falling out. This helps to increase efficiency for the people packing these fruits and vegetables while making the work a little bit easier.

Pregis is also the only manufacturer to offer low-density polypropylene sheet foam. Pregis Microfoam® offers a high coefficient of friction to protect against vibrations and shifting during transportation. It is reliable at temperatures as low as -250°F for use in cold chain shipments, as well. Microfoam is lighter than comparable polyethylene foam, saving money and fuel by reducing the size and weight of deliveries.

 

The Future of Food Packaging

The future of food packaging in the agriculture industry will be defined by innovation in packaging technology, with an emphasis on adaptability and protection for the fruits and vegetables consumers crave. Growers who respond to changing market needs on both the product and packaging level will emerge as winners once the dust settles.

 

Learn more about Pregis packaging solutions for the food industry today.