Von Rohr, of Sunny Valley International, believes sustainability is a key factor in the heightened demand for organics.
Beaver says there’s been double-digit growth across the state and has “witnessed firsthand the continued ascent of this category. We don’t see any signs of this trend slowing down,” he contends, “and are eager to see New Jersey growers capture additional market share in this key growth category.”
Although most wholesalers ship bulk or loose produce, this has been changing as consumers seek alternatives, especially those offering convenience. Von Rohr acknowledges the shift from bulk to packaging, with consumers reaching for more bagged produce over the tradition of picking fruit one piece at a time. This now holds true for peaches, he notes, with the popularity of 2-pound tote bags with retailers. “Peaches are now being requested in the same way as grapes.”
Desire for different sized packs has increased volume as well. Instead of a pint of berries, for example, Sunny Valley also offers 18-ounce, 24-ounce, and 2-pound packages. And in working with the state’s largest organic blueberry grower, both full- and half-pint packaging is available, Von Rohr says.
Over at The Fresh Wave, Consalo says the grower is also “working with new packaging to stay relevant in the marketplace.” From an efficiency standpoint, top-seal technology is increasingly popular, which he characterizes as having “a fresh look” and the packaging also reduces shrink. Fresh Wave has also partnered with a few retailers to delve into further research to figure out what consumers really want “regarding pack sizes and weights,” so suppliers and sellers can more effectively target their audience.
Another trend in packaging is exploring more grab-and-go options and designs. “Convenience is big going forward,” says Nardelli. “Consumers don’t have time in the kitchen and need what can be eaten as easily as possible.”
An Eye to Conservation
Conservation and sustainability are the capstone of production for New Jerseyans. “All of our farmers are on drip irrigation to conserve water,” says Von Rohr, who also works with the state’s largest peach grower and a blueberry farmer who are both harnessing solar power in their operations.
For its part, The Fresh Wave is concentrating on waste reduction. Consalo says the grower is “very aware of food waste and constantly looking to improve.” Currently, he says the company is “working on new SKUs that will use up a lot of what becomes waste,” to not only boost sales but also reduce any wasted product.