The fundamental goal of packing is to protect the contents from harm during transportation, handling, and storage. Packaging keeps the product safe along the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the final consumer.



First impressions are crucial, and your packaging is frequently a consumer's first exposure to your goods. As a result, producers should never ignore product packaging. The significance of product packaging is multifaceted, and it may go a long way toward ensuring a positive first impression and long-term brand loyalty. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind while packing fruits and vegetables.


Packaging waste disposal limitations exist in an increasing number of locations, including major export markets. Almost all produce packaging will be recyclable, biodegradable, or both in the near future. Many of the top purchasers of fresh fruit are likewise concerned about environmental problems.


Shelf Life

Modern produce packaging can be custom engineered for each commodity to extend shelf life and reduce waste. Containment The container must enclose the produce in convenient units for handling and distribution. The produce should fit well inside the container, with little wasted space. Small produce items that are spherical or oblong (such as potatoes, onions, and apples) may be packaged efficiently utilizing a variety of different package shapes and sizes.

However, many produce items such as asparagus, berries, or soft fruit may require containers specially designed for that item.



The package must protect the produce from mechanical damage and poor environmental conditions during handling and distribution. To produce buyers, torn, dented, or collapsed produce packages usually indicate a lack of care in handling the contents. Produce containers must be sturdy enough to resist damage during packaging, storage, and transportation to market. Because almost all produce packages are palletized, produce containers should have sufficient stacking strength to resist crushing in a low temperature, high humidity environment

NB: Damage resulting from poor environmental control during handling and transit is one of the leading causes of rejected produce and low buyer and consumer satisfaction.



The package must identify and provide useful information about the produce. It is customary (and may be required in some cases) to provide information such as the produce name, brand, size, grade, variety, net weight, count, grower, shipper, and country of origin. It is also becoming more common to find included on the package, nutritional information, recipes, and other useful information directed specifically at the consumer. In consumer marketing, package appearance has also become an important part of the point of sale displays

Universal Product Codes (UPC or bar codes) may be included as part of the labeling. The UPCs used in the food industry consists of a ten-digit machine-readable code.

Types of Packaging Materials

Pallet Bins

Substantial wooden pallet bins of milled lumber or plywood are primarily used to move produce from the field or orchard to the packing house. Depending on the application, capacities may range from 12 to more than 50 bushels. Although the height may vary, the length and width are generally the same as a standard pallet.

More efficient double-wide pallet bins are becoming more common in some produce operations. Most pallet bins are locally made; therefore it is very important that they be consistent from lot to lot in materials, construction, and especially size.


Wire-Bound Crates

Although alternatives are available, wooden wire-bound crates are used extensively for snap beans, sweet corn, and several other commodities that require hydro cooling. Wire-bound crates are sturdy, rigid, and have very high stacking strength that is essentially unaffected by water. Wire-bound crates come in many different sizes from half-bushel to pallet-bin size and have a great deal of open space to facilitate cooling and ventilation. Although few are re-used, wire-bound crates may be dissembled after use and shipped back to the packer (flat).


Paper and Mesh Bags

Consumer packs of potatoes and onions are about the only produce items now packed in paper bags. The more sturdy mesh bag has much wider use. In addition to potatoes and onions, cabbage, turnips, citrus, and some specialty items are packed in mesh bags. Sweet corn may still be packaged in mesh bags in some markets.

In addition to its low cost, mesh has the advantage of uninhibited air flow. Good ventilation is particularly beneficial to onions. Supermarket produce managers like small mesh bags because they make attractive displays that stimulate purchases.


Plastic Bags

Plastic bags (polyethylene film) are the predominant material for fruit and vegetable consumer packaging. Besides the very low material costs, automated bagging machines further reduce packing costs. Film bags are clear, allowing for easy inspection of the contents, and readily accept high-quality graphics. Plastic films are available in a wide range of thicknesses and grades and may be engineered to control the environmental gases inside the bag. The film material "breathes" at the rate necessary to maintain the correct mix of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor inside the bag.

Since each produce item has its own unique requirement for environmental gases, modified atmosphere packaging material must be specially engineered for each item.


Shrink Wrap

One of the newest trends in produce packaging is the shrink wrapping of individual produce items. Shrinkwrapping has been used successfully to package potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, onions, sweet corn, cucumbers, and a variety of tropical fruit. Shrinkwrapping with an engineered plastic wrap can reduce shrinkage, protect the produce from disease, reduce mechanical damage and provide a good surface for stick-on labels.


Rigid Plastic Packages

Packages with a top and bottom that are heat formed from one or two pieces of plastic are known as clamshells. Clamshells are gaining in popularity because they are inexpensive, versatile, provide excellent protection to the produce, and present a very pleasing consumer package. Clamshells are most often used with consumer packs of high-value produce items like small fruit, berries, mushrooms, etc., or items that are easily damaged by crushing. Clamshells are used extensively with precut produce and prepared salads



Sacks are traditionally made of jute fiber or similar natural materials. Most jute sacks are provided in a plain weave. For one tonne transportation of vegetables, materials of 250 grams per square meter or less are used.




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