Verona, KY – Early in the development of her alternative to plastic containers, farmer and creator Linda Fritz saw her “Sustainable Produce Container” as perfect for holding tomatoes and berries. Its earth-themed vents helped the produce breathe and since it was made of cardboard it was 100% recyclable. She was in the dark though about what it could do for mushrooms.
“I thought that mushrooms didn’t like vents since the fresh ones in the grocery store are totally wrapped in plastic,” Fritz states. “Then one of my customers explained that gourmet ones are more delicate and without air turn brown fast. But he also said that packing mushrooms in paper bags for the more natural farmer’s markets wasn’t good either since the mushrooms tend to “eat” the bags.”
To solve these problems Fritz decided the next size would be a bigger 2 Quart, which she debuted in May. The design features quick assembly “Kliklock” sides and reversible color so a grower can make the box with the brown or the white side out. The new size was a big investment for Fritz but now more than 50% of her container business is to mushroom growers. In return, business for the mushroom growers is increasing because of extremely happy consumer response to the eco-friendly packaging. A North Carolina grower reported some of her customers were buying the mushrooms to give to friends because the box was so pretty.
Caleb Fiechter at Valley Spirit Farms of Henry County, Kentucky was one of those farmers who loved the boxes Fritz had already invented but encouraged her to create a 2 Quart size. With help from the Kentucky Proud program, Fiechter was able to have Fritz print his farm’s logo and story on the 15,000 Sustainable Produce Containers he recently purchased. This eliminated the need for a stick-on label, another earth benefit since most labels are not biodegradable due to their UV coating. “Linda’s containers fit really well with our whole farm philosophy of growing ecologically responsible food,” says Fiechter, “plus they’re dazzling our market customers!”
With the increased emphasis on touchless transactions due to Covid19, the Sustainable Produce Container’s lid and anchor lock offers growers a secure way to deliver their product. For large scale growers who need millions, the cartons can be machine formed for assembly line placement at speeds and costs comparable to that of hinged plastic clamshells.
Additionally, mushroom growers are taking advantage of other Sustainable Produce Container sizes. Sean Henry of Hifimycology in Austin, Texas just ordered another pallet of 10,000 Quart boxes and Ray Sumano of Sumano’s Organic Mushrooms in California has seen his business increase since packing his Shiitake Mushrooms in the Low Profile Pint. Fritz always knew mushrooms were healthy to eat, now she’s glad there’s an earth-healthy way to package them.