Small Packaging Is the Trend for Organic Vegetables
3/15/2024 New Creations Machinery Change Article

Small Packaging Is the Trend for Organic Vegetables

The producer organization Reichenau-Gemüse eG from the island of Reichenau on Lake Constance takes an environmentally friendly approach to packaging its vegetable products. In view of rising prices, this is a challenge.

Tomatoes in burger packaging. Reichenau-Gemüse eG offers so-called burger packaging for vegetables such as tomatoes. The cardboard tray has foil-free viewing windows.
Reichenau-Gemüse eG, the vegetable growers' organization on the island of Reichenau, produces 16,000 tons of vegetables per year, around 50 percent of which are organic. Reichenau-Gemüse eG guarantees its customers environmentally friendly, integrated vegetable production. With the Baden-Württemberg quality brandmark, the products are offered all year round under the motto "fresh daily from the vegetable island" and sold via Reichenau-Gemüse-Vertriebs eG. The cooperative uses cardboard trays with appropriate printing to emphasize their environmental friendliness and thus justify the higher price.

The desire for less plastic waste is a huge challenge for society as a whole, according to deputy managing director and spokesperson for the cooperative Christian Müller. "Everyone should do something about it in their own area and within their means. That was also the objective on the island of Reichenau." Environmentally friendly reusable folding crates are already being used for the majority of loose vegetable products.

He would prefer to only sell loose goods, but most retail customers prefer packaged goods because that's what the end customer wants, says Müller. "If you ask people where they prefer to shop, many say at the weekly farmer's market because they like the atmosphere there. But in the end, they do most of their shopping in the supermarket."

Viewing Window Without Foil

There are also disadvantages to buying loose produce in stores, for example when customers press tomatoes before buying them. "Loose organic produce lies next to normal produce in the store - if customers weigh it incorrectly, for example at the price of the entry-level product, this leads to significant markdowns for the retailers", says Christian Müller, spokesperson for the cooperative. The cooperative solves this problem by using cardboard trays made from 85 percent recycled paper. This packaging completely dispenses with the plastic film and still meets all requirements in terms of protection, visibility and declaration.

Burger Packaging Without Burgers

The cardboard packaging is sealed, which prevents customers from picking up the individual pieces of fruit.  And yet, thanks to the foil-free viewing window, you can still be sure of the freshness and quality of the product. The trays - because they are closed but easy to open - are called burger packaging and are of high quality. Customers are prepared to pay more for aromatic regional tomatoes in the sturdy 150 gram tray. Because prices have also risen due to inflation, the trend is towards small pack sizes. Hardly anyone wants to pay a price of 12 euros per kilo, and with small packaging units people tend to pay more attention to the price per gram.

The fact that inflation is bringing prices more into focus and that full-range retailers want to reverse the successful switch to (slightly more expensive) filmless cardboard containers is another matter. For such customers, film packaging is still used in some cases and the flowpack machine is used. However, the cooperative is sticking to the concept of cardboard trays.