Demand for packaged product is so high at Mucci International Marketing Inc. that the company has converted its 75,000-square-foot warehouse to a repacking facility.

“Demand for packaged product seems to be stronger every year,” said Joe Spano, Mucci’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Everything is packaged. That’s the trend. To do that, you need warehouse space, packing lines, food safety protocols and traceability systems.”

Finding the necessary warehouse space wasn’t an issue after Mucci, Kingsville, Ontario, acquired the 90,000-square-foot warehouse formerly operated by defunct Red Zoo Marketing, Ruthven, Ontario, last summer.

Mucci renovated the Red Zoo building and has dedicated that larger facility to its distribution needs, freeing up its existing facility for repacking.

Some consumers and retailers — including Wal-mart Stores Inc. — have called for less packaging because of sustainability issues. But vice president of sales and marketing Matt Mastronardi said Pure Hot House Foods Inc., Leamington, Ontario, and many of its competitors use biodegradable packaging.

“We believe going to packaged produce is better for the retailer and the consumer,” he said. “For the retailer, it helps decrease spoilage, and the product lasts longer. For the consumer, it adds the food safety element because no one can touch the produce until it’s opened.”

Clifford Produce Sales Inc., Ruthven, introduced biodegradable Eco Trays last year. President Chris Jacobs said the trays improve product shelf life and help with merchandising.

“We are committed to going green as much as possible without sacrificing the process of getting fresh products into the consumer’s hands,” Jacobs said.

Salesman Kyle Moynahan said Jem-D International, Leamington, offers both corn-based packaging and bulk displays to meet the needs of retailers and consumers.

Peter Quiring, owner of Nature Fresh Farms Inc., Leamington, uses biodegradable flow wrap and paper trays rather than clamshells when possible.