Fresh produce, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, requires special care to maintain freshness and quality. Consumers increasingly demand freshly harvested food, so packing solutions play a crucial role in meeting their expectations.
In this article, we will discuss the science behind keeping produce fresh and explore five innovative solutions for packaging that help preserve the quality of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Measuring How Farm Fresh Produce Is
To ensure it stays fresh, consider two critical factors: the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and the Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR).
- The MVTR, also called the Water Vapor Penetration Rate (WVPR), measures how much moisture gets into food packaging over a certain time interval. The results can vary greatly depending on the content and the duration of exposure.
- The OTR, on the other hand, measures the product’s exposure to oxygen within the food packaging. Oxidation of the product in the bag is the primary contributor to staleness—a decline in the qualities of texture and taste.
Packaging solutions can effectively maintain the freshness of produce by understanding and controlling these two factors.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Packaging Requirements
Packaging regulations and rules for fruits and vegetables ensure the safety and quality of these products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets forth guidelines and requirements for food packaging materials in the United States.
These guidelines include the proper use of substances that come into contact with food and the appropriate labeling of packaged products. Additionally, individual states may have specific rules and regulations.
Some essential requirements for packaging fresh vegetables and fruits include the following:
- Only industry-standard, safe materials that don’t risk consumer health.
- Ensuring chemicals don’t transfer or leak from the packaging into the food.
- Labeling the packaging with the FDA-required product information, e.g., origin, ingredients, and expiration dates.
- Follow appropriate guidelines for packaging types, for example, Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) or vacuum packaging.
Adhering to these regulations ensures farmers and food manufacturers provide safe, high-quality packaging solutions for fresh food.
5 Packaging Solutions for Fresh Foods
1. Horizontal Flow
Horizontal flow wrapping involves feeding produce through the machine into a continuous roll of film. The product is then sealed in an airtight, tamper-proof cushion, preventing moisture or oxygen from entering. For produce like fresh fruits and vegetables is an ideal environment — plus, the air cushion protects the delicate product during transit.
Designs and product information can be readily printed onto the packaging. And, as one of the fastest packaging systems — reaching operating speeds of 2,000 packs per minute — it seals in the product’s freshness the moment it reaches the packaging facility.
2. Vertical Bagging
Vertical bagging is another effective packaging option for fruits and vegetables in season, ensuring their freshness and quality. In this method, a vertical form fill seal (VFFS) machine creates bags from a roll of film, filling them with the desired product before sealing.
Loose fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots, are often bagged vertically — as other methods struggle to keep the product together.
3. Shrink Packaging
Shrink wrapping is a common way to package specific freshly harvested produce, like cucumbers, cauliflower heads, or trays of berries. This method wraps the product in heat-sensitive plastic that shrinks tightly around the item when heated.
The result is a tamper-proof seal that prevents moisture and oxygen from entering — the enemies of fresh produce.
4. Sealed Trays
Combining either flow wrapping or shrink-wrapped with a sturdy tray, sealed trays are reliable for keeping fresh products organized and protected. Sliced fruits, mixed salads, mushrooms, and prepared vegetables are frequently stored in trays — sealed with a film or lid.
Our tray sealers are designed to deliver consistent sealing performance, ensuring the freshness and safety of your products.
5. Plastic Containers
Last, plastic containers are durable, sturdy, and suitable for producing all shapes and sizes.
Best of all, these are resealable and offer consumers excellent product visibility. Our product packaging solutions include equipment for efficiently and consistently filling and sealing plastic containers with fresh products.
Customized Solutions for Different Product Types
Several factors must be considered when determining the right packing solution, from baked goods to seasonal fruits and vegetables. These include the size and shape of the product, the moisture content and sensitivity to oxygen, and the shelf life.
Often there are multiple packaging options available for a product. Speak to our expert team to find out which is best for you—considering other factors such as cost, space available, labor requirements, and more.
Indeed, our packaging machines and technologies allow for customization and adaptation. We ensure each type of fresh product, including fruits and vegetables in season, receives the appropriate packaging option to seal in the freshness.
Plan IT Packaging – A Packaging Solutions Company
Freshness at the shop isn’t an accident. It’s the result of a carefully planned and managed packaging operation. Consumers expect everything from apples to cookies to be fresh and ready to eat. That means choosing packaging that blocks out moisture and oxygen while adhering to stringent packaging regulations.
Let us help you maintain the freshness of your produce! Look no further than Plan IT Packaging for your fresh produce needs. Our experienced team is ready to find the best packing solution — Contact us today to learn more.