Among the more eye-catching produce packages shown at this year's Food Marketing Institute show May 7-10 was the package developed for Broccoli Time(TM) marketed by Salinas CA-based Tanimura & Antle. Like other combo kits introduced by produce marketers recently it offers the consumer a complete meal in convenient all-in-one packaging. But while T&A's peers have typically opted to put their combo components in a flexible film Broccoli Time comes in a clear semi-rigid tray thermoformed from rollstock by T&A. "We wanted the package to stand up on display in the refrigerated produce case" says Ken Silvera general manager of Broccoli Time. The best way to accomplish that is through a semi-rigid package that stands upright more reliably and shows package contents more dramatically than a flexible bag. The billboard effect is so pronounced the package "practically does our advertising for us" says Silvera. The package's ability to stand upright is a function of its shape. It's about 3" deep at the leading edge and then quickly tapers down to a sidewall at the trailing edge that is less than 1" high. The 3" sidewall at the leading edge becomes the base on which the package stands. One of the four Broccoli Time varieties available is a cream of broccoli soup; the only components inside are fresh broccoli florets in a breathable film so that they can respire and soup stock in a pouch made of barrier film. The stock is packaged by an outside firm but the broccoli is packaged by T&A on a Hayssen (Sheboygan WI) vertical form/fill/seal system that T&A has used for its ready-to-eat Salad Time salad mixes for several years now. Film specs and supplier are not available from T&A. Broccoli and sauce together have a net weight of about 12 oz. For three nonsoup Broccoli Time varieties-broccoli pasta salad fettucine alfredo with broccoli and stir fry broccoli with noodles-inside each tray are the following: broccoli florets in a breathable film pasta packaged in a barrier film by an outside vendor and sauce or dressing in a barrier film pouch. Again all three are already in their primary packages-in clear materials that nicely display color and texture-when it's time to assemble them in the Broccoli Time combo. Waiting for them are two Tiromat form/fill/seal machines from Tetra Laval Convenience Foods (Avon MA). About eight workers are assigned to each machine their primary responsibility to load the components into the tray. "Tiromat seemed in the best position to get us a machine in the time frame we were looking at" says Silvera. "They got us started with a demo machine that was available and then we ordered a second a Power Pack model." Both the entrees and the soup which has a slightly smaller package than the entrees can be run on either machine. The newer of the two machines the Tiromat Power Pack is a stainless steel system with complete washdown capabilities.