(Oct. 29, 2:04 p.m.) ORLANDO, Fla. — Sustainability and food safety features were common links among the winners of the packaging Impact Awards during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.

“You have to have food safety all the way to the consumer, not just during distribution,” said Bernard Ciuffetelli, vice president of processing Operations for To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms Inc., Avondale, Pa. “We did consider that when we were looking at containers.”

To-Jo won in the functionality and technology category for its new line of marinated mushrooms in 10-ounce containers that are tamper-evident, reusable, recyclable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe.

“With less restaurant sales, we needed a product that could give moms a restaurant quality meal with less fuss,” he said.

Other winners were Del Monte Fresh Produce’s new plastic containers in the food safety and traceability category, Tanimura & Antle’s Living Lettuce container in the marketing messaging and content category, Mann Packing’s Simply Singles in the supply chain efficiencies category, Micky’s Minis’ All Dressed Up flowers in the marketing design category and Noble Juice & Blue Lake Citrus Products in the environment and sustainability category.

Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. produces the Living Lettuce at its Langston, Tenn., greenhouse, and distribution is limited to a 400-mile radius.

John Landa, broccoli and cauliflower product manager, said the lettuce is shipped with its roots still attached and it has an 18-day shelf life. It also comes in a recyclable container.

Salinas-based Mann Packing Co. Inc. offers red leaf, green leaf and romaine singles in recyclable clamshells shipped in recyclable, waxless cartons. Unwanted outer layers of the product are removed in the fields and plowed back into the soil to provide nutrients. The product also eliminates the need for retail customers to trim and discarded product at the store level.

“This is something that’s very much used in foodservice, and now it’s available to retail,” said contest judge Odonna Mathews, president of Odonna Mathews Consulting Inc. “I would buy this. I don’t have to wash it. It’s ready to use.”

Like To-Jo’s mushrooms, the packages from Del Monte, Tanimura & Antle and Mann have tamper-evident features.

Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-base Del Monte Fresh Produce, said the polyethylene bowls from Inline Plastics Corp. are sealed without shrink wrap and are leak proof. He said the recyclable containers could be used for numerous commodities and different sizes.

Mathews said Del Monte’s pull-tab was easier to open than many tamper-evident containers, and praised the company for eliminating the use of polyvinyl chloride shrink bands.

PMA’s packaging award winners share trendy traits
Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. was among the winners of the Produce Marketing Association's Impact Awards for packaging, presented during Fresh Summit 2008. The company garnered an award in the marketing messaging and content category for its recyclable Living Lettuce container. John Landa, broccoli and cauliflower product manager, says the lettuce is shipped with its roots still attached and it has an 18-day shelf life.