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Mushrooms launch in water-resistant, compostable pack

Champ’s Mushrooms becomes one of the first produce companies to use new, more water-resistant packaging made from renewable compostable palm pulp-based material.
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British Columbia-based Champ’s Mushrooms has become one of the first companies to use new, improved water-resistant packaging from Earthcycle, which offers a line of certified home-compostable, recyclable, and renewable products. The improved package, launched by Earthcycle after a year of extensive research, uses a new, highly refined palm pulp formula that will allow retailers, growers, and repackers across North America to take advantage of Earthcycle’s packaging for high-moisture produce, especially mushrooms.

“We set out to develop a packaging formula that works especially well with mushrooms, which are one of the most challenging produce items at any store because of the high water content,” says Shannon Boase, founder and president of Earthcycle. “Through extensive research, we’ve now developed a new formula that helps maintain the strength and integrity of our packaging under high-moisture environments for even longer, without compromising our environmental credibility of the packaging. Our clients have also found that our new packaging formula extends the freshness and integrity of produce up to 10 days beyond the regular shelf life of 10 days.”

Earthcycle produces the compostable packaging by turning palm fiber, which is cultivated in Malaysia to produce palm oil, into a pulp. The pulp is then used to form virtually any shape or size of packaging using standard vacuum-thermoforming tools.

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“We’re very excited about Earthcycle’s improved moisture-resistant packaging because our mushrooms will now stay fresh even longer,” says Rick Watters, manager of operations for Champ’s Mushrooms. “We love the fact that the packaging offers a consistent message with our organic mushrooms and that the consumer intuitively knows that the packaging is eco-friendly because of the natural look and feel of the material.

“The packaging provides an emotional connection to the consumer—it makes them feel good for doing their part for the environment.”

The new water-resistant packaging is available across Earthcycle’s entire product line and will also be used to package additional fresh produce items such as avocados, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Says Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing for Estero, FL-based Naturipe Farms LLC, one of the world’s leading berry marketers and another user of Earthcycle packaging, “We continue to see growth opportunities in organic berry sales and have explored a variety of ways to improve our merchandising and communication with consumers. Our focus was to better understand and address the organic consumer motivation to purchase organic—especially the core organic consumers, who make every attempt to purchase natural, organic, sustainable, recyclable products. We believe that the Earthcycle packaging will appeal to this core group because the packaging is made from recyclable, natural, agricultural materials, allowing the consumer to ‘vote with their dollars’ for more sustainable packaging. We had to overcome farm operation, harvest, and logistics issues and believe that we now have a design that not only meets our rigorous requirements but satisfies today’s organic consumers with a more natural/organic based package.”

Naturipe uses an exclusively designed Earthcycle package for organic blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. The Naturipe-Earthcycle package was awarded Best New Packaging at the United Fresh Produce Annual Convention in May 2012.

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