A fresh produce punnet for a better planet

A fully recyclable FSC carton board fresh produce punnet.

Packaging Solutions: Reducing food waste and helping 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 worked alongside the retailer Sainsbury’s to create a fresh produce pack for chilled low barrier products. This work culminated in the Taste the Difference tomato punnet, a cartonboard alternative to the APET tray. It may not be completely plastic-free but it replaces 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 cartonboard and has reverse print options for branding and recipe ideas.

140 million trays later…

Since the conception of the fresh produce punnet the format has been adopted by two further retailers. Coop 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 140 million 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.

Finally (and probably most significantly) the sales have also been impacted by a certain BBC documentary on the plight of plastic on the planet’s sea life!

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A Supply chain solution too

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.

An award-winning pack format

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 last year. 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.

“This was one of my first projects when I joined the Alexir Partnership and I am very proud of it. It has been great working on a pack format that contributes in a small way to saving the planet as well as functioning effectively as a piece of packaging.” Tom Stone, Senior Sales Manager at the Alexir Partnership and Project Manager.

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More information about the Alexir Partnership

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.

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