Netted bags and larger clamshells are among the latest packaging trends for New Jersey fruits and vegetables.

Bill Nardelli, president of Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros. Inc., said there are two forces at work when it comes to determining trends in fresh produce packaging.

And they both happen to be working in opposite directions.

On the one hand, consumers want more pre-packaged, ready-to-eat items, Nardelli said.

On the other, because of the economic climate we live in today, they may not be willing to pay for such items.

A bag of cleaned, prepared collard greens, for instance, may cost 50% more than a comparable bulk purchase, Nardelli said.

The household with two working parents might choose the bag based on convenience, but their pocketbook may lean toward the bunch for $1.89, he said.

Tom Sheppard, president of Eastern Fresh Growers Inc., Cedarville, N.J., said his company has seen strong demand for its 2 ¼-pound asparagus club pack so far this spring.

“It’s going over really well,” he said.

Pepper six-packs have been another popular packaging choice for customers of Eastern Fresh, Sheppard said.

Many retailers will sell those packs in display-ready boxes, which also continue to perform well, Sheppard said.

“We’ve had them (display-ready boxes) for a couple of years, they’re just getting more interest,” he said.

 Phil Neary, director of operations and grower relations for Sunny Valley International, Glassboro, N.J., is seeing higher demand for his company’s high-graphic soft netted yellow- and white-flesh peach bags.

While the growth rate of that packaging option hasn’t been “crazy, like it is in the West,” more of the company’s customers have been requesting the option, Neary said.

Neary also expects brisk movement of the company’s 4-pound yellow-peach box, 6-pound yellow- and white-peach boxes and peach totes.

In blueberry packaging, the 18-ounce clamshell is an option preferred by more and more Sunny Valley customers, Neary said.

“They were new a couple of years ago, and they’re growing at a good pace,” he said.

Reusable plastic containers also are a growing category for Sunny Valley.

“We have one or two accounts beyond Wal-mart that are looking to do (RPCs),” Neary said.