Packaging formats for herbs and garlic can play an active role in getting the products to move off retail shelves, suppliers say.

Some packs offer usage ideas or other practical information, said Camilo Penalosa, partner in Infinite Herbs & Specialties in Everett, Mass.

Suppliers develop array of packaging formats“One trend is nutrition information and also, recipes or instructions on how to cook the product,” Penalosa said.

What type of packaging to feature often is up to an individual customer and its marketing philosophy, Penalosa said.

“Some like clamshells and you go with clamshells; some like bags, and you go with bags. If they like bunches, you go to loose product,” he said.

It’s a marketing niche that different supermarket companies have and suppliers have to be aware of what that niche is, Penalosa said.

“It’s important to focus on different presentations, so you can keep different clients,” he said. “The same product but different presentations, based on what they offer their clients.”

Reliable packaging is versatile, said Louis Hymel III, purchasing and marketing director with Orlando, Fla.-based Spice World Inc.

“Good packaging stands out on the shelf, protects the product, is informative and consumer-friendly,” Hymel said.

All that requires considerable planning, Hymel said.

“We spend a lot of time along with added cost to create the most attractive and appealing packaging possible,” he said.

In recent years, the Gilroy, Calif.-based garlic grower-shipper switched from hard plastic containers to a stand-up pouch for its peeled garlic products, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing with the company.

“The packaging has been very well received and have helped save on shipping and refuse,” she said.

Some customers prefer no packaging, said Jim Provost, co-owner of West Grove, Pa.-based garlic, ginger and shallot grower-shipper I Love Produce LLC.

“We sell packaged garlic and ginger, but most of what we sell is bulk, because people want to see and touch the product,” Provost said.

There’s no food-safety concern with those items, he said.

“They’re both covered with skin and they’re both cooked traditionally before eating,” he said.

Visibility is another key factor in packaging, said Tim Heydon, CEO with Harrisonburg, Va.-based Shenandoah Growers Inc.

“Visibility, differentiation among the varieties is important, so we’ll typically color code among the varieties,” he said.

Visual aids in graphics also are useful, Heydon said.

“What we also do is pair with graphics a typical meal with a variety of herbs that someone may typically buy,” he said. “You have a picture of fish on a package of dill, poultry with rosemary and thyme.”

Packaging also will vary according to the nature of the product, Andrew Walsh, CEO of Vernon, Calif.-based Vida Fresh Inc., said.

“You’ve got the live herbs, which have been sold with a plastic breathable sleeve around it, and then you’ve got bunched and put in a cooler and you’ve got different size clamshells,” he said.

Mike Layous, sales and marketing representative with The Garlic Co. in Bakersfield, Calif., said vacuum packs can be helpful to consumers.

“We pack that for a variety of people,” he said. “The idea is a pouch of garlic is vacuum filled. The consumer opens one of the vacuum packs and uses it for the recipe and leaves the others for the next recipe.”

There’s also an issue of bulk vs. packaged product, said Robert Schueller, spokesman for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce Inc., which markets the Melissa’s brand.

Bulk displays, for example, offer the consumer an opportunity to choose the amount of product needed. On the other hand, he said, there are risks involved in handling “sensitive leaves,” as well as, “a messier display.”

“It’s labor-intensive, and there is a water/mister consideration,” he said.