Il Melograno Packs Fresh Salads in Cargill Dow's Maize-Based Nature Works PLA

NAARDEN, THE NETHERLANDS—Grocery shoppers want the convenience and freshness of ready-to-eat produce, but they also want food packaging with less environmental impact, according to Cargill Dow.

Il Melograno srl, based in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy, answers both consumer concerns with its new ready-to-use salads packaged in clear, flex-fill bags made from Cargill Dow's maize-based NatureWorks PLA— rather than traditional petroleum-based plastic film.

Cargil Dow reports that demand is growing rapidly for ready-to-use (pronto all’uso) fresh foods, including produce items like salads and cut fruit and vegetables.

"According to a January 2004 report from ACNielsen Italia, the market in Italy for ready-to-use fresh food increased 39 percent from 2002 to 2003, with an estimated economic value of €349 million. Citing time savings, quality, and selection, 58 percent of shoppers reported buying a ready-to-use food product once a week," explains Cargill.

"With nearly every retailer offering ready-to-use food, Il Melograno is changing to NatureWorks PLA to capture consumer interest in nature-based food packaging options," adds the company. "Recent consumer research by Grapentine Company showed that 68 percent of Italian grocery shoppers rank the concept of purchasing fresh food in nature-based packaging as 'very desirable.' Of those, approximately 77 percent said they would pay extra for fresh foods packaged in nature-based packaging."

States Il Melograno GM Claudio Coli, “We are promoting our use of a nature-based packaging to help increase interest in the Il Melograno brand. NatureWorks PLA packaging also fits with our strategic commitment to the environment and a positive consumer experience."

According to Cargill Dow, packaging made from NatureWorks PLA is 100-percent nature-based and will degrade in industrial compost facilities. Along with these environmental benefits, NatureWorks PLA offers all the convenience and performance of traditional food packaging.

“The film provides the level of breathability and aroma barrier particularly important for fresh produce packaging,” says Stefano Cavallo, business development manager, Cargill Dow BV. “In addition, the salad bags made of NatureWorks PLA are very transparent and glossy, and have a crisp sound, which attracts a favorable response from grocery consumers.”

Il Melograno first introduced the new packaging in Italy in the summer of 2003, says Cargill. Initial market trials confirmed many consumers perceive salads packaged in the nature-based packaging to be fresher and have a longer shelf life than salads packaged in traditional plastic films.

Learn more about Cargill Dow's Natures Works at Learn more about degradable and biodegradable materials for packaging in Bio Break Down, a technical report appearing in this month's regular issue of PFFC.

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