There is growing demand for punnet packaging in the fresh horticulture produce landscape. The global rigid packaging market is currently valued at ~US$ 597 billion (2018), and is anticipated to grow at a steady CAGR of ~3% during the forecast period. As such, manufacturers are increasing their focus to offer rigid packaging solutions in the horticulture space.
Likewise, the demand for punnet packaging has increased in horticulture as the produce has a much shorter shelf life as compared to agricultural produce. That is why, crop growers in the horticulture landscape are demanding efficacious punnet packaging solutions to reduce food wastage.
The production of plastic punnet packaging is estimated to reach ~11 billion units in the year 2027; accounting for the highest volume amongst all materials. Since plastic is a convenient raw material, manufacturers are introducing punnets made from r-PET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) films that help them comply with the global standards for packaging materials. R-PET punnets serve as a safe option for efficient food storage and meet the regulatory requirements for product safety.
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Winning Imperatives: Experimentation with Compostable Materials
Due to the growing awareness about sustainability amongst consumers, manufacturers in the punnet packaging space are competing to provide innovative trays and containers that contribute towards a circular economy. According to the survey by Transparency Market Research (TMR) on consumer sentiment analysis, it was found that, ~65% of the respondents have an affirmative opinion toward the purchase non-plastic punnets. As such, manufacturers are introducing low-cost punnets that are manufactured from fiber-based materials, and can also be recycled. For this, manufacturers are developing one-of-its kind, compostable strawberry punnets. In order to contribute towards sustainability, they are adopting environmental-friendly operational practices to offer novel punnet packaging solutions.
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Since non-plastic punnet packaging serves as a cost-efficient solution, manufacturers are also experimenting with wooden punnets that are covered with a compostable top-seal. The integration of complex processes with latest technology has helped manufacturers develop punnets made from dried tomato leaves and recycled cardboard pulp. For instance, in January 2019, Waitrose & Partners – a chain of British supermarkets, announced a collaboration with DS Smith – a British international packaging company, to launch first-of-its kind cardboard grape punnets in the U.K.
Sustainable Solutions and Profile-cut Heat Sealing Add Convenience to Punnets
The punnet packaging landscape is highly scattered, which creates scope for incremental opportunities for emerging market players. However, strict regulations by government institutions to ensure product safety have created a virtual barrier for manufacturers to invest in licensing. For instance, according to the new packaging regulations implemented by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) in 2018, it is mandatory for manufacturers to use high-quality polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) punnets for fruit and vegetable products, and thermoformed trays with a lid for sweets and confectionaries. As such, manufacturers are turning towards sustainable punnet packaging solutions to avoid expensive licensing costs.
Manufacturers are reinventing strawberry marketing by modifying traditional strawberry punnets. However, the heat sealed packaging acts as a disadvantage to consumers who wish to reseal the container. Therefore, manufacturers are investing in profile-cut heat sealing machines that provide the option of a seal foil to reseal the containers.
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