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Modified atmosphere packaging for the retail market

The way fresh produce is handled and packaged is of important consideration to anyone in the industry. From the grower, to the shipper and the retailer through to the customer, it's in everyone's best interest to keep the produce as fresh as possible for as long as possible. There are countless solutions in the industry to deal with this as well as companies dedicated to working on solutions for the fresh produce sector. 

Greg Ganzerla has been in the packaging business for decades. His company, Image Plastics and Packaging, now produces modified atmosphere packaging with a focus on the retail market. His vision aims to encompass a broader group of clients with a balance of high capacity as well as approachability to family owned businesses.

"I've been in the packaging business since the mid 90's," Ganzerla said. "More specifically, I have been involved in the modified atmosphere business since 1999 selling PEAKFresh products, and recently wanted to do more with high clarity modified atmosphere packaging for the retail industry through Image Plastics and Packaging.

Greg Ganzerla

Getting the business started
Within the last few years, Ganzerla started working on the strategy to produce modified atmosphere packaging with the options of various sizes and color options for retail. His idea was to be personal and flexible, while still offering industry wide options for any kind of fresh produce business.

"It began when I went overseas and partnered with a company who would be able to provide the necessary laser perforated flexible packaging together with multiple color printing presses to build a solid business foundation," he said. "We wanted to cover everything from exotic fruits to conventional vegetables. We soon gained the capacity to provide high color packaging for a competitive price, by dealing directly with the client, rather than through a middle man. Our printing process using rotogravure cylinders is precise and our film quality is great. We are very proud of the machinery we have in our facility. The best thing is that we have kept prices low, so that anyone can approach us, whether they are a small farmer or a large corporation using vented or laser perforated packaging for retail."

Short lead times
One of the benefits identified by Ganzerla was the ability to provide customers with a custom designed product in as short a lead time as possible. He said he does this by ensuring capacity in both the design as well as the hardware. 

"We noticed that customers would come to us, asking if they can get a pouch, roll stock or flat bag, printed and designed the way they want it, in as short a time as possible," Ganzerla said. "Because retailers want it now, timing is important in this industry and we are able to provide customers with short lead times. I like to maintain business on a personal level, so I manage client projects myself 7 days a week and communicate with my overseas production team throughout the night to eliminate any delays due to different time zones. We have scheduled containers coming every 7-9 days so, even if it takes 3 days to make printing cylinders, we can have a new project completed quickly and added to a container or even shipped by air freight within 2 weeks of ordering. This can be any project from roll stock, cooking bags, microwave bags, standup pouches as well as flat bags. We can accommodate many different molds and we have the equipment capacity to handle high volume production for large customers as well as cater to the small players."

Laser perforated modified atmosphere bags

Precise calculations for different produce and conditions
Modified atmosphere laser perforated packaging involves keeping the product at a steady atmospheric state to help it remain as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Clearly, not all fresh produce is the same. For example, cherries require a different atmosphere modification than squash. Then, there are the varying conditions from post-harvest to transport and all the way to the arrival in stores. Ganzerla said his company has a team that calculates what conditions the product is likely to face on its journey from the field to the customer's home. 

"Whenever a customer asks for a type of package to be designed, we ask them questions about how their product is treated throughout the journey," he said. "Temperatures and the treatment of the produce are all taken into consideration. Just imagine that, for example, a product from Mexico may need to travel by road for several days, including going through a border inspection that may involve cold chain breaks with temperature adjustments at retail level. These are the types of conditions we calculate for when we design packaging for the client. Image Plastics and Packaging uses an experienced fresh produce technical consultant that performs precise calculations to determine the number of laser perforations needed for each package to effectively maintain freshness and prolong shelf life."

Different applications
Ganzerla said the main objective of modified atmosphere packaging is to ensure produce is kept as fresh as possible, as long as possible. Avoiding rejected products and addressing the growing market for ready-to-go packaging in stores is how he sees this form of the packaging industry going.

"I’ve seen tremendous growth in stand-up pouch bag sales because customers like the ease and convenience of grabbing a bag of fruit or veggies," Ganzerla noted. “We also introduced the Re-usable PEAKfresh Home Use Produce Bag for consumers allowing them to purchase more fruit and vegetables at one time and not throw any away because the shelf life and freshness is extended for up to two weeks. The bags are a simple, effective way to eliminate waste. They’re great for large families and the folks who shop at supercenters.”

Home use produce shelf life bags

Potential for expansion with organic products
Ganzerla also observed that their products are ideal for organic produce as they provide an option to keep the product fresh, while maintaining organic regulations. "We see great potential for modified atmosphere packaging for organic produce," he continued. "As chemicals are not used on organic produce, the packaging helps to guard against pests as well as keep the produce fresh. All the materials, including the plastic and the ink, are approved for use in organics."

"My family were all farmers originally and I wanted to get back to my roots and help out with intelligent products at lower prices," Ganzerla concluded. "I am committed to supporting both the growers and the suppliers which ultimately leads to the consumer who’s buying the produce. It's a great feeling to contribute to this supply chain and know that my product provided the customers with the freshest, most nutritional produce possible."

For more information: 
Greg Ganzerla
Image Plastics and Packaging
Tel: +1 (877) 537-3748

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