Produce packaging fails: a brief history

The international marketing magazine for fresh produce buyers in Europe
Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Produce packaging fails: a brief history

Following the discovery of individually shrink-wrapped potatoes, Fruitnet compiles its own collection of extreme packaging

A brief history of produce packaging fails
  1. Over the past few weeks and months, a sorry succession of retailers and marketers has been getting into hot water on social media because of their perceived over-zealous packaging of fresh produce.
  2. This time around, it's individually shrink-wrapped potatoes in the firing line. And if it's one thing the internet loves to hate, it's Mother Nature being suffocated in the name of added value.
  3. Here's a brief recap for those that missed all the produce packaging palaver…
  4. Taters, haters: Rob Beschizza posted this photo of some remarkably shiny spuds on BoingBoing.net at the end of last week. He's obviously quite cross about it: "Individually-shrinkwrapped potatoes are why we must destroy capitalism," he exclaimed, presumably before realising his potato dauphinoise is going to take twice as long as usual.
  5. A game of two halves: These Calavo-branded avocado halves at Sobeys caused a bit of a stir back in March.
  6. Mandarin madness: Around the same time, many felt that Whole Foods' pre-peeled oranges were a step too far, although some said they made sense for consumers who find the fruit difficult to unwrap.
  7. If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them. https://t.co/00YECaHB4D
    If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them. pic.twitter.com/00YECaHB4D
  8. Tapping into a new market: Whole Foods certainly has previous when it comes to putting simple items of produce into unlikely packaging scenarios, as these bottles of Asparagus Water* confirm.
  9. Somewhere in L.A., Whole Foods executives are laughing at all of us.
    Somewhere in L.A., Whole Foods executives are laughing at all of us.
  10. [* Asparagus Water is not, as far as we are aware, a thing.]
  11. Split decision: Back in early 2011, Del Monte got into a spot of high-profile bother when its single-serve bananas ended up being pilloried on US political satire programme The Daily Show. The company did try to argue, however, that wrapping the fruit in such a way made it easier to sell them in vending machines.
  12. Losing their, er, peel: Then it was Austrian chain Billa's turn to feel the wrath of all humanity* when it attempted to rethink the whole bananas-sold-in-their-own-natural-packaging business model.
  13. [* Or, more accurately, some people on Twitter]
  14. Bend it like Billa: Despite those two high-profile examples, some retailers have remained unaware of the potential PR disaster awaiting those who shrink-wrap anything that is already a naturally packaged product.
  15. Use your melon: Then of course, there's the question of labelling. Not much we can say in defence of these particular errors of judgement…
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