Our fresh produce punnets are not only a work of art but they may help to save the planet too.
At a time when supermarkets are being urged to create a plastic-free aisle in every store, the NPD team at the Alexir Partnership have been working alongside retailers to create a carton board fresh produce pack for chilled low barrier products, as an alternative to the APET tray. With an OPP flow wrap it may not be completely plastic-free but it does replace the black tray and is a step in the right direction. It also protects and promotes the delicate produce – two essential requirements for good packaging! The punnet is made of fully recyclable FSC carton board and has reverse print options for branding and recipe ideas.
This work has now culminated in 9 SKUs in the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference tomato range and 1 SKU of easy-peel clementines. The premium tomato range in Sainsburys encompasses a multitude of varieties including Pomodorino, Sundream, Heritage Jewels, Vittoria, Jubilee, Vine and Sunglow.
Since the conception of the fresh produce punnet the format has been adopted by two further retailers. Co-op now merchandise their ‘Grower’s Choice’ Piccolo Tomatoes in the punnet and Waitrose have opted for the salad leaves, Chicory. In the last two years Alexir have manufactured and supplied millions of fully recyclable trays to the retailers replacing their black plastic trays. In turn Coop saw a 40% uplift in sales of their premium tomatoes as a direct response to the change from plastic to carton board. It seems that consumers have really engaged with the new pack format. It also encourages consumers to other parts of the store with recipe ideas printed on the carton.
The nested tray also has the added benefit in that it works on existing flow wrapping packing lines and therefore negating any need for a CAPEX investment. Furthermore the material change from plastic to carton board has had no impact on packing efficiencies as both machine speed and tray count have been maintained.
The Alexir Partnership were delighted when this fresh produce punnet went on to win the Cartonboard Pack of the Year at the UK Packaging Awards in November 2017. The winning pack was up against some stiff competition from the likes of Coveris, Essentra, DS Smith and Graphic Packaging. The judges included representatives from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer and Mondelez, who examined a record number of entries. This pack was also shortlisted for the Carton Excellence Award organised by the European trade associations Pro Carton and ECMA.
“A great produce pack that doesn’t compromise the product but helps to extend its life and, therefore, reduce food waste.” UK Packaging Awards Judge.
“Great functional design that stands out in this category.” UK Packaging Awards Judge.
The Alexir Partnership are unique in the UK in that they are the only business in the food sector that can create, package and pack products from design to delivery within one enterprise.