Mucci Farms’ new Veggies to Go packs hit the sweet spot for consumers and for the company’s retail customers, offering parents an easy, healthy option for their kids’ away-from-home snacks and providing retailers with multiple package configurations.
The food packaging concept is simple but elegant (see the one-minute promo video above). The basic package is a 9-oz “EZ Snap” package comprising three 3-oz trays that can be snapped apart. The recyclable trays are made of PET.
Film lidding, featuring an easy-open tab, is sealed to the rigid package. Holes in the film allow the produce to breathe.
Retailers can choose to sell the 9-oz package and/or the individual 3-oz packs. For club stores, Mucci offers a tiered package comprising three 9-oz packs bundled with a paperboard sleeve. Retailers can customize the vegetable selection in the packages, choosing from snack-size cucumbers, mini peppers and two varieties of grape tomatoes.
Fernanda Albuquerque, packaging development manager at Mucci Farms, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the new packaging.
How did Mucci Farms come up with the Veggies to Go packaging concept?
Albuquerque: Based on market trends, our own market research and feedback from our retail partners, we’ve learned that the snacking and convenience category has been steadily growing across every food category. Up until recently, the snacking segment has been dominated by unhealthy products, so as a company focused on healthy eating, we took on the task of finding a way to offer our snack-sized fruits and vegetables in a convenient, cost-efficient and sustainable package.
The idea began a few years ago, and our original concept was a single bag containing our Sun Drops Grape Tomatoes, CuteCumber Cocktail Cucumbers and Sweet To The Point Pointed Mini Peppers. Due to ethylene that emits from tomatoes, we knew putting tomatoes next to cucumbers would impact shelf life. So it was on our radar to develop packaging that addressed the ethylene issue. The product went on the back burner until top-seal technology impacted the market. Seeing a top-seal package version at a tradeshow allowed us to revisit this project. We realized we could separate multiple compartments while keeping them in the same package. From there, we looked at prototypes offered by a variety of packaging companies, ran a ton of tests for ventilation and shelf life, and we were off to the races.
In terms of pack styles, we develop every product and package with every type of retailer in mind, so having multiple options was a given. Retail supermarkets generally take smaller packs, and club stores take larger, family-sized packs. With this particular product, because we could snap each compartment off, it was easy to offer in individual 3-oz packs, as well.
Please describe the graphics on the lidding of the single packs. Does each 3-oz pack have all required product information?
Albuquerque: This is correct. If retailers choose to buy the 3-oz version, each individual pack will have all the product info and UPC on it. If they purchase the one-unit, 9-oz pack, it’s one single film with info and UPC. For the club pack, the product info and barcode are on the paperboard band.
Where is the UPC on each of the package configurations?
Albuquerque: On the 3-oz and 9-oz packs, the UPC is on a label placed on the bottom of the tray. On the club pack, the UPC is on the paperboard sleeve, on the bottom of the band.
How do retailers customize the packs? For example, could a retailer put the same product in all three of the 3-oz trays?
Albuquerque: Yes. Retailers can customize the pack however they like. We have a recently launched club pack in which the customer asked for three different commodities but with each packed in the same tray.
Are custom-designed graphics required for the lidding film, to accommodate customization?
Albuquerque: No. We have standardized graphics for individual 3-oz trays and a standardized graphic design for the 9-oz tray. For individual 3-oz packs, we use a thermal transfer printer to type out the commodity on the lidding film. Same with the 9-oz tray, based on the product configuration. Because we print the information, we don’t have to order multiple sets of lidding film.
Do you perforate the plastic between packs so it is easy to snap the three-pack into individual packs?
Albuquerque: Yes, the film and the tray are both perforated to provide our EZ Snap convenience.
What is the shelf life of the vegetables?
Albuquerque: Seven to 10 days.
Please tell us about the holes in the lidding. Are the holes optimized for the type of product in the tray?
Albuquerque: The holes are pre-punched by the manufacturer of the film. They are punched the same way on each unit, as our tests showed that it was the right ventilation for each product. The tray itself is also hole-punched for additional ventilation and for convenience, so consumers can rinse the product right in the container.
When did Veggies to Go roll out in stores?
Albuquerque: We’ve been trialing it in a variety of retailers over the past year, but full production started in October. The launch is now underway.
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