Australia’s potato and onion producer Mitolo Family Farms has partnered with packaging converter Detpak and supermarket retailer Coles to develop a kerbside recyclable paper bag for fresh potatoes.
Three years in development, the new paper bag for Mitolo Family Farms’ premium Gourmandine potatoes is manufactured and flexo printed with water-based inks by Detpak in South Australia. Detpak supplies the material as rewind to Mitolo for in-line form, fill and seal.
“This bag may sound like a simple solution, but it has taken immense work to ensure there is absolutely no compromise to the quality of the potatoes while allowing us to achieve the sustainability outcome we were seeking,” Mitolo Family Farms MD Frank Mitolo said. “We had to consider everything from lux lighting levels in the supermarket through to breathing holes that don’t tear, new sealing solutions, bag strength and more.”
PKN spoke to Tom Lunn, Detmold Group GM of Innovation and Sustainability, who explained that Detpak applied proprietary technology to deliver on both sustainability and efficiency outcomes for Mitolo Family Farms, with one of the challenges being to develop a bag that could be formed, filled, and sealed by Mitolo at high speed.
Lunn said Detpak is experiencing high demand for paper-based packaging from brands in the fresh produce category, particularly from premium brands, driven by strong anti-plastic sentiment among consumers, coupled with concerns about the lack of soft plastic recycling. He noted that brand owners are seeking to meet sustainability goals and the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Lunn confirmed the packaging innovation delivering a 64 per cent reduction in plastic, with 8.2 tonnes less plastic being used each year (when compared to the previous packaging for this product). He said the paper bag carries the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) and is kerbside recyclable.
The new Gourmandine paper packaging extends on previous sustainability steps taken by Mitolo Family Farms – having cut its use of plastic packaging by 60 tonnes in 2022 by reducing the thickness of plastic used to bag potatoes.
Lunn said, “We’re very pleased to have been able to draw on our in-house development capabilities in order to assist Mitolo Family Farms with their desire to transition their Gourmandine product away from plastic packaging,” he said. “Consumers are becoming more and more conscious of making responsible choices when it comes to choosing which brands to buy from, and packaging plays a significant part in those decisions.”
Mitolo Family Farm’s Gourmandine potatoes are exclusively available in Coles supermarkets.
Coles business category manager for Vegetables Tim Nitschke said Coles was pleased to work with Mitolo Family Farms on the project.
“Coles has partnered with the Mitolo family for over 25 years and we are pleased to work closely with them to develop this innovative paper packaging solution for the Gourmandine range available exclusively at Coles,” he said.
“We are always looking for ways to reduce unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging in our stores, as well as reduce food waste, and this innovative new paper bag helps to achieve these sustainability ambitions.”