A new Australian producer has secured fridge space for a range of strawberries in unique heat-sealed 350g punnets.
The square punnets, made of standard 100 per cent recyclable PET, display BerryWorld strawberries in a single layer with the barcode at the base for easy scanning.
The company negotiated with retail partner Woolworths to display the strawberries in the fridge section rather than the lounge where other Australian strawberries are displayed.
Heat-sealed film is perforated with eight air vents to keep fruit cool and fresh in-store and after purchase.
Pre-printed film was also more aesthetically pleasing than labeled lids, managing director Gavin Scurr said.
"As few Australian strawberries are consistently sold in heat-sealed punnets, this will be a positive change for strawberry consumers," he said.
"Heat sealing, which is standard in berry production throughout Europe, not only keeps fruit fresh but it is tamper-proof."
Scurr said the new line achieved several points of difference for strawberry marketing.
"If we're launching a premium brand, we want as many points of difference as possible, from packaging and presentation, through to berry taste and appearance, he said.
"Australian strawberries are generally sold in 250g or 450g punnets, and there are some 1kg punnets.
"Weve decided on a 350g punnet to give Australian consumers more choice. Globally, it's already a size that's instantly associated with strawberries. We're confident Australian consumers will appreciate it as a convenient, family friendly size.
Scurr said the BerryWorld Australia packaging would also deliver production and cost efficiencies and energy savings.
Facts about heat sealing
Heat sealing uses approximately 30 per cent less packaging materials than a punnet with a lid, and has been shown to perform slightly better in maintaining fruit weight up to purchase.
With strawberries, there's always a slight margin of weight loss after packing.
To achieve the 350g weight by the time of purchase, the company allows for loss by slightly overpacking, typically by about 20 grams per punnet.
Scurr (above) said automated heat sealing would also create significant production efficiencies in the packhouse because the film could be applied faster.
Once opened, the punnets are not re-sealable. However, re-sealing is an option BerryWorld Australia would consider in the future, he said.
BerryWorld Australia's raw packaging materials are imported from China and manufactured to specification by Victorian-based packaging producer Multisteps Industries.
The strawberries are grown and packed at Queensland-based Piñata Farms, the growing arm of joint venture company BerryWorld Australia.
A customised production line has been installed at the Wamuran packhouse to pack the specialty berries.