Because the niche market for organic is concerned about the environment packaging must be environmentally friendly, sustainable, environmentally preferable, clean, and packaging must be minimal. Companies delving into this market seem to be creatively trying to match these requirements and at the same time keeping the food safe and free from contamination.
According to the Organic Trade Association, fruit and vegetables are the most popular organic items and account for close to 40% of all organic food sales (Karst, 2017). Organic produce sales increased at more than twice the rate of total non-organic fruits and vegetable sales. Almost 15% of vegetables and fruits consumed in the United States is now organic (USA Today & Meyer, 2017).
Are you truly organic?
Packaging is an important aspect of what makes a product truly organic. Trends suggest that certified organic companies are attempting to use the least amount of packaging possible. More and more companies are switching back over to plain, clean and simply labeled plastic bags. Because producers and consumers are concerned about pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics transferring to the organic product, there is a need to have an even better tamper evident seal.
Are we overpackaging?
Packaging organic food is different from conventional packaging. In order to maintain a lower carbon footprint, packers are finding that “less is more”. First impressions for the consumer come from the packaging. Organic branding must clearly draw the attention to consumer away from the non-organic product. Many produce packers and farms are simply using high quality plastic bags, with clear and clean labels, and clear tape closures. The clarity of the bags allows the consumer to see the higher quality of the goods.
Are you transparent?
The organic movement is all about transparency delivering the message of “good for you”, high quality, and environmentally friendly. How does this translate into the packaging? Consumers must be able to visually see the product. In the past, companies used windowing to display the product and relay this transparency. The use of packaging that is completely clear is more commonplace than ever before. The text and graphics for organic products must be simple and transparent to stand out from the other products.
There does not seem to be specific criterion on packaging to maintain organic certification or to label a product organic. Are packers asking if the materials they use for the packaging are “food grade”? Plastic bags and tape might be the lighter weight alternative, but do we have full disclosure on the chemicals in the plastic or tape? The challenge to the organic market will be for them to recognize that the packaging matters too - full disclosure please!
Karst, T. (2017, August 24). Organic sales continue to climb. The Farm Journal.
USA Today, & Meyer, Z. (2017, July 27). Organic food is pricier, but shoppers crave it. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/07/27/organics-popularity-higher-than-ever-43-billion-2016/500129001/