Packaging plays a role in connecting consumers to products, and this is true also for fresh produce. Schur Star Systems is one company constantly innovating to attract that hard to reach youth market
A recurring issue for the fresh produce industry is how to market its products with relatively limited funds compared to the mighty budgets available to the confectionery and processed-food sectors.
According to the healthy eating campaigning organisation Fast Food Facts, in 2012, fast food restaurants spent $4.6 billion on advertising. The largest advertiser, McDonald’s, spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products as all US fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined.
An obvious reason for the vast sums of money dedicated to such activities is that it works. A 2007 US study showed how children would rather eat food in branded packaging compared to food with no brand. In the study of three-to-five year-olds, 76.7% of the children preferred French fries in McDonalds branded wrapping compared to 13.3% preferring plain packaging, yet the portions of fries were exactly the same.
Packaging firm Schur Star Systems is aware of how branding a product can boost its attraction to consumers, but also that for a producer where margins are often on a knife-edge, cost concerns can cloud decisions. This is why, says Ruud van den Heiligenberg, sales manager for the Benelux area, the company aims to work with clients to find innovative solutions.
“The choice for a packaging format is still very often driven by cost,” he explains. “But what about the brand, the story of the product, nutritional values and recipes on how to use the product? All these kind of marketing messages via packaging are very common in the food industry, but you hardly ever find this in the fresh-produce department. Schur Star Systems shows how packaging can create added value for the whole sector and the consumer.”
Van den Heiligenberg claims the company has created increased sales for many of its fresh produce customers through devising packaging that meets the modern needs of consumers, including that tough youth market.
“In some markets we have made fruit attractive for children by packing a mix of fruit in a branded stand-up carrier bag” he says. “We have made a commodity product such as potatoes attractive again for the young generation with the new Schur Fresh ‘n’ Go packaging.”
An easy pick
The Schur Fresh ‘n’ Go design, which allows the consumer to see the product through the transparent, and easy to open, packaging, was also used by distributor Direct Produce Supplies to help lift sales of kiwifruit.
Traditionally kiwifruit has been sold in netted punnets, but following reports from a major retailer that sales were declining, DPS switched to the Fresh ‘n’ Go packaging and sales started to climb again.
Van den Heiligenberg says it’s not just in the areas of design and branding that Schur Star Systems is actively looking for new solutions, but also how to produce increasingly sustainable packaging.
“If you look at the segment of snack vegetables, such as baby plum tomatoes, the most common way of packing 250g is a plastic cup or shaker,” he says.
“This shaker with a lid is made of 14-16g of plastic. The Schur stand-up pouch contains only 2.6g of recyclable plastic. This is a reduction in packaging waste of 84%. Apart from this enormous waste reduction, there is also a big saving in transport.”
The Stand-up pouch reduces packaging, space, and ultimately transport costs
On the road
Van den Heiligenberg explains how one pallet with regular shakers contains 400kg of product, but the same size pallet filled with Schur Stand-up pouches contains 500kg of product.
“This means 25% fewer pallets, 25% fewer trucks on the road, 25% less logistics cost,” he continues. “For a retailer that sells 70,000 shakers a week, the Schur stand-up pouch would save 50,000kg of plastic and 24 full truckloads every year.”
Schur Star Systems will be at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference, where the company is keen to speak with representatives from countries and markets it operates in but has not yet had a chance to meet with.
Alongside working with the fresh produce industry, the company also provides packaging for the medical, and DIY sectors. “We sell our systems mainly in Europe, the US, Australia, and New Zealand,” says Van den Heiligenberg. “There is still a huge potential in these markets and regions to keep us growing.”
As the produce industry strives towards sustainability, and reaching out to young consumers, Schur Star is confident it can help move the sector closer to such goals.