After Ontario-based Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) food company Fieldless launched in retail stores, shoppers were quick to share they loved the company’s greens. But the accolades came with some “constructive criticism” — consumers wanted a non-plastic packaging alternative. The Fieldless team listened and three years of R&D ensued.
In what’s praised as a first for leafy greens, the company’s newly unveiled packaging has a plastic-on-plastic, middle-peel resealable top. But a recyclable cardboard “salad box” completes the picture. Compared to the traditional plastic clamshells Fieldless was using, the innovative new packaging reduces the company’s plastic use by 90%. In an encouraging sidenote, Fieldless reports the new cardboard packaging has also proven to maintain freshness longer than its previous clamshells.
The challenge to reduce single-use plastic in a meaningful way wasn’t simple. The new Fieldless packaging needed to:
- Ensure customers could judge product freshness.
- Handle typical retail transpiration and condensation moisture.
- Be re-sealable and minimize oxygen penetration that reduces shelf life.
- Look as good at retail — or even better — than competing plastic-packaged products.
- Represent a science-backed reduction in environmental impact, not just a shift.
“We’re proud to be the first to package cut greens this way,” said Fieldless CEO Jon Lomow. “Our goal is to significantly reduce single-use plastics while maintaining a great product experience.”
Lomow acknowledged that the choice to use cardboard goes against the idea that produce consumers want to see the product — all of it — before they buy. But he suggested it’s time for the industry to move past that thinking.
“Food producers continue to rely on plastic since consumers want to see the produce they are buying. That’s perpetuating a reliance on single-use plastics in grocery retail. Our choice may seem risky from that perspective, but we have to be bold to make change,” Lomow said. “We know consumers want less plastic. And thanks to how and where we grow, our consumers know to trust the freshness of our greens.”
While the company considers the new salad box a “great step forward,” Lomow stresses this is just the first step in sustainable packaging innovation at Fieldless. “It’s the optimal solution today,” he says. “We’ll continue to innovate and improve in our mission to deliver food sovereignty, sustainability and joy for consumers.”
Images: courtesy of Fieldless