Producers of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables continuously work to develop innovative packaging with consumer trends in mind.

For example, Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., Coral Gables, Florida, says the company recently introduced film-seal technology to select fresh-cut lines to extend shelf life, enhance product quality and deliver an improved consumer experience. He adds that these film-sealed fresh-cut items won the 2019 United Fresh Innovation Award for Best New Packaging.

"Packaging trends tend to lean towards reducing as much plastic as possible," Christou says. "Del Monte Fresh Produce continues to pull away from shrink bands entirely. We use tamper-resistant packaging and prioritize rethinking packaging to align ourselves with the industry's effort to minimize plastic."

Christou says another trend prevalent in the convenience channel is packaging that consumers can open with one hand, redefining what is considered "convenient" and "on-the-go."

Irwindale, California-based Bonduelle Fresh Americas recently introduced Fresh Air Seal technology, which extends the shelf life of the company's salad bowls without preservatives, so they stay fresher longer, allowing health-conscious shoppers the confidence to stock up for the week in just one grocery trip, says Sharon Valle, senior manager of corporate communications.

Consumers continue to value convenience, but they're also very conscious about cutting back on food waste, says Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food Co. Inc., Westlake Village, California.

Launched in January, Dole's new Fresh Takes single-serve, ready-to-eat salads are packaged in PET bowls that are convenient for quick lunches on-the-go and are recyclable, he says.

Another packaging trend is a move away from steam-in bags toward rigid, microwaveable trays, says Loree Dowse, director of creative marketing for Mann Packing, Salinas, California, which is now part of the Del Monte Fresh Produce family.

"We've been using these for our Nourish Bowls for a few years now but are noticing them more in the market for soups and other ready-to-heat meal kits," she says.

Doug Burris, executive vice president of sales and marketing for The Fresh Food Group, The Woodlands, Texas, says most of the company's packaging is custom designed to accommodate fresh-cut produce and maximize shelf space.

Environmental sustainability is increasingly important to The Fresh Food Group's partners and the end consumers, he says, so the reduction of plastic waste and eco-friendly packaging is on the rise.

"This is good for business, but the right thing to do for the world we live in," Burris concludes.