Packaging & Labeling
Proper packaging is essential in order to allow safe, easy movement and storage of your products. Good packaging will protect the integrity of your products, keep out contaminants and allow for the holding of proper temperatures. Wholesalers, grocers and food distributors interviewed stressed the point that industry standard packaging should be used. Poor packaging and presentation is a common mistake made when delivering produce and other farm products to restaurants. This is especially true when selling to higher-end restaurants. Restaurants—especially those in the fine dining sector—appreciate growers going the
extra mile to present their product. But chefs also understand that, like in a kitchen, things can happen on the farm too.
Labels and labeling may seem to be a lesser marketing concern for selling directly to restaurants than for selling into other channels. After all, don’t your fresh produce and other products often speak for themselves—and don’t chefs know what to do with the product? That mindset defeats the different marketing purpose that a label has when selling to restaurants, say experienced farm-to-restaurant marketers. Using labels can benefit a marketing strategy beyond product presentation and connecting your farm’s name with the product, product labels can include instructions for use and storage. The minimum labeling requirements for food products mentioned by most of the wholesale buyers interviewed were COOL and UPC or PLU codes on the product. Any item to be sold through a retail checkout has to have a PLU (price look-up number) and or a UPC (barcode).
Best Marketing Practice
- Understand the typical industry standard packaging.
- Prepare to spend extra time packaging produce.
- Ask buyers about packaging preferences.
- Have access to standard size cardboard boxes.
- Develop a relationship with processor.
- Prepare to show buyers the potential value.
- Understand that labeling can help build the farm's identity.
- Have access to water resistant labels.
- Understand the legal regulations for labeling.
- Explain to buyers the terminology indicated on the label.