Packaging Requirements for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Packing and packaging materials contribute a big cost to the produce industry; therefore it’s important that packers, shippers, buyers, and consumers have a transparent understanding of the wide selection of packaging options available. This factsheet describes a number of the various sorts of packaging, including their functions, uses, and limitations. Also included may be a listing, by commodity, of the common produce containers standard to the industry.

The Function of Packaging or Why Package Produce?
Skip to The Function of Packaging or Why Package Produce?
A significant percentage of produce buyer and consumer complaints could also be traced to container failure due to poor design or inappropriate selection and use. A properly designed produce container should contain, protect, and identify the produce, satisfying everyone from grower to consumer.


A growing number folks markets and lots of export markets have waste disposal restrictions for packaging materials. within the near future, most produce packaging are going to be recyclable or biodegradable, or both. Many of the most important buyers of fresh produce also are those most concerned about environmental issues.

The trend is toward greater use of bulk packages for processors and wholesale buyers and smaller packages for consumers. There are now quite 1,500 different sizes and designs of produce packages.

Sales Appeal.
High quality graphics are increasingly getting used to spice up sales appeal. Multi-color printing, distinctive lettering, and logos are now common.

Shelf Life.
Modern produce packaging are often custom engineered for every commodity to increase time period and reduce waste.


The container must enclose the produce in convenient units for handling and distribution. The produce should fit well inside the container, with little wasted space. Small produce items that are spherical or oblong (such as potatoes, onions, and apples) could also be packaged efficiently utilizing a spread of various package shapes and sizes. However, many produce items like asparagus, berries, or soft fruit may require containers specially designed for that item. Packages of produce commonly handled by hand are usually limited to 50 pounds. Bulk packages moved by forklifts may weigh the maximum amount as 1,200 pounds.


The package must protect the produce from mechanical damage and poor environmental conditions during handling and distribution. to supply buyers, torn, dented, or collapsed produce packages usually indicate lack of care in handling the contents. Produce containers must be sturdy enough to resist damage during packaging, storage, and transportation to plug .

Because most produce packages are palletized, produce containers should have sufficient stacking strength to resist crushing during a coldness , high humidity environment. Although the value of packaging materials has escalated sharply in recent years, poor quality, lightweight containers that are easily damaged by handling or moisture are not any longer tolerated by packers or buyers.

Produce destined for export markets requires containers to be extra sturdy. Air-freighted produce may require special packing, package sizes, and insulation. Marketers who export fresh produce should consult freight companies about any special packaging requirements. Additionally, the USDA and various state export agencies could also be ready to provide specific packaging information.

Damage resulting from poor environmental control during handling and transit is one among the leading causes of rejected produce and low buyer and consumer satisfaction. Each fresh fruit and vegetable commodity has its own requirements for temperature, humidity, and environmental gas composition. Produce containers should be produce friendly – helping to take care of an optimum environment for the longest time period this might include special materials to slow the loss of water from the produce, insulation materials to stay out the warmth , or engineered plastic liners that maintain a positive mixture of oxygen and CO2 .


The package must identify and supply useful information about the produce. it’s customary (and could also be required in some cases) to supply information like the produce name, brand, size, grade, variety, net weight, count, grower, shipper, and country of origin. it’s also becoming more common to seek out included on the package nutritional information, recipes, and other useful information directed specifically at the buyer . In consumer marketing, package appearance has also become a crucial a part of point of sale displays.

Universal Product Codes (UPC or bar codes) could also be included as a part of the labeling. The UPCs utilized in the food industry contains a ten-digit computer readable code. the primary five digits are variety assigned to the precise producer (packer or shipper) and therefore the second five digits represent specific product information like sort of produce and size of package. Although no price information is included, UPCs are used more and more by packers, shippers, buyers, and retailers as a quick and convenient method of internal control and price accounting. Efficient use of UPCs requires coordination with everyone who handles the package.

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