Interest for packaging continues to increase. It is not just any type of packaging that produce companies and retailers have their eyes set on, it’s sustainable packaging. Although Europe is a frontrunner when it comes to sustainable packaging, recyclable and compostable packaging types are taking off in North America as well. “We’ve been providing packaging equipment and sustainable packaging solutions in Europe for 35 years,” says Sandra Somford, President with JASA Packaging. “Over time, we’ve learned what works well and what doesn’t, and I believe we differentiate ourselves by bringing our knowledge of the European market to the United States,” she added.
“When it comes to investing in a new packaging line, we are involved from beginning to end in the role of advisor,” continued Somford. “Packaging shouldn’t just look attractive; it also needs to be efficient from an automation point of view.” JASA brings all involved parties together and takes care of the automation part. As a system integrator, the company supplies complete weighing and packaging lines based on the customer’s desired packaging design. Once the customer has decided on the design, JASA ensures the equipment is compatible.
New packaging for tomatoes
Sustainable packaging options are available for apples, pears, kiwi fruit, grapes, avocados and tomatoes. Somford sees a lot of opportunity for growth in the tomato category. Tomatoes lend themselves well for packaging, but options are essentially limited to plastic. “We’ve developed a new paper-sleeve packaging that shows tomatoes are a great fit for paper packaging. It’s also a relatively simple transition from plastic to paper. In addition to a better visual appeal, paper offers more room for brand promotion.”
In Europe, packaged apples are growing in popularity. However, North America isn’t quite ready to follow suit. “The reason it may take longer for the apple industry to adapt to sustainable packaging is that a relatively large part of apples is still sold in bulk.” The transition from bulk to sustainable packaging takes time. “It is hard to skip a step as naturally, apples will shift from being available in bulk to plastic packaging options,” commented Somford. In general, North America hasn’t adapted packaging like Europe has. “In the Netherlands, 35 percent of all produce in grocery stores is ready-to-eat and packed, while it is closer to only 5 percent in the US,” she added.
Types of sustainable packaging
What types of packaging does JASA offer? “When it comes to sustainable packaging, we offer paper bag packaging options that work well for dry products like potatoes, onions, and carrots,” Somford said. An example is the Bag-2-Paper. For tomatoes, apples, pears, grapes, and kiwi fruit, a cardboard punnet with a cardboard sleeve tends to be an optimal solution. For avocados and citrus, both these packaging options are a good fit. Originally, the JASA Sleever was designed for the Dutch market to automatically sleeve ready-to-eat meals. “A sleeve makes the product stand out on the shelf.” More recently, sleevers have also gained popularity in the ready-to-eat segment in the US. Apart from paper options, sustainable packaging also includes reducing materials. Examples are replacing lids by (re-sealable) top seal packaging or the use of mono materials that are recyclable. “We’ve seen these trends in Europe for many years and as a result, they have become a common way of thinking for us.”