Produce / Produce Retailers

A Well-Packaged Produce Brand Starts with Packaging

A Well-Packaged Produce Brand Starts with Packaging

Packaged produce is a growing industry trend. The days of bulk-stacked, volume-packaged fruits and vegetables have passed. Consumers want healthier-for-them fresh, quality produce and healthier-for-the-planet growing, sourcing, and packaging. Retailers, adapting to these demands and other pressures in their markets, look for inventory unitization, longer shelf life, and less damage in transport and handling. Co-packers, upstream of the retailer and consumer, must adapt to these demands. While disruptive, co-packers know that in challenge, opportunity lurks.

Consumers are becoming savvier every day. Worldwide, traditional and social media reverberate with stories of environment cataclysm. Evocative and thought-provoking imagery reinforces these stories. Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II documentary showed viewers up-close the effects that plastic pollution has on wildlife. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area off the coast of California and Mexico that teams with plastic and marine life, he showed turtles caught in netting and sperm whales trying to eat plastic sheeting. It’s footage that is hard to un-see.

Growing awareness is changing opinions and behaviors. Consumers, for example, are willing to pay more for sustainable, earth-friendly products. GlobalWebIndex, in its 2019 study of US and UK consumers, reported that 58% of consumers claimed that they would speak with their wallets. Their data, though, that earth-consciousness is only a top concern for 42% of the population. It competes with traditional shopping concerns like price (72%) and brand awareness (52%). Retailers are reacting to these shifting demands – they are launching sustainability efforts. Aldi, for example, has a goal to use only compostable, recyclable, or reusable packaging in its brand-exclusive products by 2025.

Smart food brands will seize the opportunity in this shifting consciousness. Between price and sustainability, in the consumer survey, was a well-known/trusted brand, a top concern for 52% of US and UK shoppers. With retailers demanding packaged produce, co-packers have the opportunity to create new brand trust. Using bright colors, consistent branding that expresses freshness, health, and taste is a great start. The brand identity isn’t just the graphics; it’s the message. Include in your messaging your environmental and sustainability story – tell the consumer how your growing, packing, and distribution process improves their world.

A great brand and brand message get you most of the way there. If you tell a great story and have a clear, crisp, inviting design and put it on single-use plastics, then you’re likely to confuse the consumer. You should match your message with your packaging. Using fully-recyclable, renewable, sustainable paperboard packaging from Greif CPG’s GreenTray tells your consumer that you match your words with your actions. You build authentic trust in the customer’s mind.

Greif CPG helps our customers build sustainable packaging success. We do this with our 6P onboarding process that puts your product, process, and people at the center of our collaborative packaging solution. If you’re looking to grow your sustainability story, reach out.

Posted by Julia Briggs in Brand, GreenTray, Produce / Produce Retailers
Use Your Packaging to Tell Your Sustainability Story

Use Your Packaging to Tell Your Sustainability Story

You package great produce, and you do it sustainably. That’s a remarkable story to tell your customers because sustainability is a top-of-mind concern for most consumers. In a 2018 report, Nielsen shows that 81% of survey respondents believed that corporations should help improve the environment – with Gen Z and Millennial respondents leading the way. Your customers want sustainability. 

Sustainability Defined

A 1987 United Nations report coined the term. They said sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It’s vaguely specific. So, it’s not surprising then that definitions for consumers vary wildly with some putting environmental concerns at the forefront while some place ethics and marketplace-behavior higher, among others. Sustainability is an abstract concept, so it’s easy for consumers to incorporate their causes and concerns in their personal definition. 

Ecolabelling, Confusion, and Opportunity

You may be saying, “But I already have a sustainability certification label on my produce. Isn’t that enough?” It turns out that you may care more about that label than your customers. A 2014 study shows that those labels do very little to sway consumer choices. Further, consumers tend not to understand what the labels truly mean. For example, people believed that Rainforest Alliance certification meant protecting wildlife in the rainforest when, in reality, it indicates that the certified company is committed to “promoting sustainable agriculture to help farmers while protecting the local environment.”

While there is confusion about specifics, your customers still care about your commitment to sustainability. We know this because shoppers reward sustainable brands. Consider that a recent study released by Unilever shows that over half of their global growth was fueled by sustainability-identified brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, and these brands now represent over 30% of the organization’s global sales. Unilever knows this is good business, and they see that the market has growth potential – they estimate the global sustainable brand market at roughly $1 trillion. 

Look to Paperboard to Replace Single-Use Plastics

Retailers are working to remove single-use plastics from their produce section. As a produce packager, you’ll likely need to make some changes. You could sell your produce in bulk. But, retailers have come to enjoy the benefits of packaged fruits and vegetables like single-unit-packs, damage prevention, and stackability. To meet both retailer demands, you can start using paperboard packaging. Paperboard presents you with an opportunity, one to showcase your sustainability message. For example, when you use Greif’s GreenTray, you are using sustainably-sourced, responsibly-recycled post-consumer paperboard for your packaging. Pair that with your other efforts like sustainable growing, ethical harvesting, and energy reduction, you’ll have an authentic and convincing story to tell.

Using single-use plastics to deliver your produce to market can lead to consumer confusion, as well. People shopping for organic fruits and vegetables look for sustainable, low-waste options. Consumers who see organic produce that’s wrapped in hard to recycle or non-recyclable single-use plastic question whether it’s truly “organic.” The packaging you choose communicates value to the consumer, and as a co-packer, you need to consider how those choices are perceived.

Greif and GreenTray can help you stay ahead of consumer and retailer packaging demands. Contact us today to start your journey towards sustainable, safe, responsible paperboard produce packaging.

Posted by Brian Harrington in Brand, GreenTray, Produce / Produce Retailers, Sustainability
Greif CPG Attends PMA Fresh Summit in California

Greif CPG Attends PMA Fresh Summit in California

Representatives from Greif’s Consumer Packaging Group attended the 2019 Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California from October 17 to 20.

Sustainability was a hot topic at PMA. The show was well attended and featured break-out sessions that addressed:

  • Meeting customer needs by anticipating preferences
  • The past, present, and future of food safety
  • Key issues in supply chain management
  • Emerging trends in the fresh produce industry
  • Sustainable practices

Greif CPG – Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Packaging

Consumers are pushing the industry for zero waste and energy efficiency, but industry experts attending PMA voiced concern over produce price increases that could come with a move to more sustainable packaging options. While manufacturers worry about the expense of paperboard or paperboard processes as they must move away from plastic packaging.

To meet these changing market needs, Greif CPG representatives discussed the use of sustainable produce trays that could easily replace current plastic solutions.

Greif CPG is a leader in the move towards sustainable produce packaging with our Green Tray paperboard solutions for protecting fresh food products in branded containers.

Greif CPG has substantial experience in sustainable paperboard packaging design and green supply chain efforts.

At Greif CPG we use 100% recycled paperboard, reducing waste and toxic materials in landfills and the manufacturing process We have an ongoing commitment to protecting our natural resources and have since 1938. We turn refuse into renewable resources by using renewable practices. By recycling 4 million tons of fiber annually, we also positively impact the environment by saving 60 million trees.

Learn more about Greif CPG and contact us by calling 216-281-7000 or emailing

Posted by Julia Briggs in GreenTray, Produce / Produce Retailers