"More fruit and vegetables are being sold via the retail channel. That's led to a sharp increase in packaged goods. Think of pre-packed bags of apples, trays of pears, and other types of fruit. More and more kinds of vegetables - like the traffic light bell peppers - are being flow-packed too. On the one hand, it's convenient for shoppers. On the other, it improves products' shelf life." That's what Frits van der Meulen of the Dutch Quality Control Bureau (KCB) writes in his column.
"The increased packaging, however, has a downside. From an environmental standpoint, all the extra plastic isn't desirable. In recent years, retailers and packers have been increasingly playing their part in reducing plastic. They're using more cardboard packaging, especially for apples and pears."
"For other products, it's sometimes still challenging to find good alternatives to plastic. These must also extend products' shelf life. Packaging has greatly improved many products' shelf life. These are products like chicory, runner beans, cucumbers, radishes, etc. A longer shelf life also benefits the environment," writes Frits.
Current Spanish greenhouse vegetable quality is so-so
"It's not only good packaging that influences products' quality and shelf life. Many other aspects play a role. Let's consider the current quality of glasshouse vegetables from Spain. The bell peppers in the trade channel are of moderate quality. There's a lot of damage and impurities. They have a short shelf life too. This leads to rejections. Products are being sorted to still provide the trade channel with reasonable-quality goods."
"For tomatoes, there are also batches of 'dirty' vine tomatoes, resulting in rejections. Spanish imported aubergines are of poor quality. The calyxes are especially badly affected. That does nothing for how this product looks. A few Dutch-grown aubergines are of far better quality. Finally, cucumbers. These are of reasonably good quality. So traders are happier with these. Here too, the share from the Netherlands is starting to increase," concludes Frits.