Smithy Mushrooms, a leading UK grower of exotic mushrooms, has partnered with fiber-based consumer packaging leader, Graphic Packaging International (‘Graphic Packaging’), to supply their premium mushrooms to UK supermarkets in recyclable, paperboard punnets.
The move comes as concerns around packaging sustainability and a desire to see less plastic on-shelf, particularly in the fresh produce aisle, play an increasing role in consumer buying decisions. This accelerating shift in consumer preference and the introduction of legislation in many European countries intended to restrict the use of plastic in packaging means brands and retailers are more often seeking packaging that reduces single-use plastic.
Graphic Packaging’s ProducePack™ Punnet is an innovative, fiber-based alternative to traditional plastic punnet trays. The tray designed for Smithy Mushrooms is coated with a water-based moisture and grease-resistant barrier, and the top film, supplied by D&M Flexibles, contains 30% post-consumer recycled material.
John Dorrian, managing director of Smithy Mushrooms, welcomes the innovation, saying, “Our previous punnet required plastic flow wrap as it could not be top sealed. The flow-wrapped punnets were time-intensive to produce, obscured the product, and used a lot of plastic. We always felt there had to be a better solution, not just in terms of plastic use, but in terms of on-shelf appeal and consumer acceptance, too.
“We had an existing relationship with D&M Flexibles who enthusiastically referred us to Graphic Packaging and their ProducePack Punnet. Once we saw the benefits it provided in terms of recyclability, plastic reduction, packing speed, and branding potential, it was an easy decision.”
The ProducePack Punnet has a unique rigid flange that is formed as part of the sealing process, can be top sealed at equivalent speeds to plastic trays and can run on the same forming machinery as plastic trays, so is relatively easy to integrate into existing production lines for packers looking to reduce their reliance on plastic.
“We are delighted to partner with John and the team at Smithy Mushrooms as part of our mission to help brands and retailers achieve their single-use plastic packaging reduction goals,” said Ellie Patterson, Graphic Packaging’s head of sales, convenience, for EMEA.
“Our commitment to that mission is unwavering, and our primary goal is to create innovative and effective fiber-based packaging for brands, retailers, and consumers. The ProducePack Punnet also offers great branding potential as the paperboard and top film can be printed with high-impact graphics, further helping the pack to stand out in the retail store.
“Product information and bar codes can be printed on the pack, removing the need for additional labels.
Patterson concluded, “We’re delighted to be able to help our commercial partners in the produce sector reduce their reliance on single-use plastic, and it’s great that Smithy Mushrooms have partnered with us on this exciting project.”