Del Monte Fresh Produce’s Fresh Cut Grab-N-Go line is designed to fit in car cup holders and features non-spill containers with resealable tops, says Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.

Photo by Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc.

When it comes to packaging or the product itself, suppliers often take into account the special needs of their foodservice customers, which can differ from retail.

Smaller packs

For example, many foodservice distributors served by The Chuck Olsen Co. Inc., Visalia, Calif., ask for smaller breaker packs for their melons, grapes, oranges or lemons, said president Jeff Olsen.

Warehouses often are unionized, he said, making it costly to break down larger packs onsite.

“We do all we can here,” he said.

The company can pack 5- or 10-pound packages, ship lemons or oranges by count rather than by weight and ship 5-pound packs of grapes, he said.

The practice satisfies customers’ needs and helps bring in more business from buyers who are not willing to purchase larger cartons, he said.

On the go

The Del Monte Fresh Cut Grab-N-Go product line has come up with packaging that has been well received by the foodservice segment, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.

“The product now comes in tamper-evident packaging with large, clear nutritional panels,” he said.

“It fits conveniently in car cup holders and includes innovative features such as non-spill containers and resealable tops.”

Hospitals and schools have been particularly receptive of the package, he said.

Standard sizes

Foodservice customers of Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., occasionally request special packs for their avocados, but by and large, they usually ask for a standard 25-pound lug or flat or a 12.5-pound pack, said Robb Bertels vice president of marketing.

“They don’t need bags or (reusable plastic containers) or Euro boxes,” he said.

Foodservice grade

One thing they do ask for is No. 2 Grade product that may not be suitable for retail.

Second-grade avocados might have some scarring or russeting that might not look good on a supermarket shelf, he said, but it wouldn’t be seen by foodservice customers, since avocados likely would be sliced for a salad or sandwich or mashed for guacamole.

“Externally, it may not be as visually pretty as a No. 1 piece of fruit, but internally, the pulp is just fine,” he said.

Squeezy spices

Garlic is a foodservice favorite, said Mitch DiMarco, director of foodservice/industrial operations for Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla.

That’s why the company offers packages ranging from a 2-pound jar to 45-pound tub of shelf-stable, ready-to-use product, he said.

“A significant amount” of the company’s sales are from foodservice, he said.

“Our foodservice and industrial division is growing pretty significantly.”

The four-count, 5-pound pack is the most popular offering for foodservice customers, he said.

Spice World also has a squeezable bottle of ginger that seems to be catching on at foodservice, he said.

It’s sold in cartons of 12 9.5-ounce bottles, and larger sizes — up to 40 pounds — are available on request.

“We’re beginning to get a little bit of (foodservice) demand on that,” he said. “As the lines between foodservice and retail continue to blur at increasing speed, PMA is making sure to address the needs of this group along with traditional industry segments.”

The conference is “the single most effective and largest opportunity for producers of fresh produce items to get face to face with existing customers and to present their different options to potential new customers in a pretty intimate setting,” Scattini said.