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Developing sustainable packaging for CEA-produced leafy greens

There’s no doubt the produce industry has undergone a few years now of rapid change, development, and pivoting to the evolving needs and interests of retailers and consumers.

As Joost Somford with JASA Packaging Solutions notes, as a packaging solutions manufacturer, historically, the company has focused on machinery and stainless-steel options. “However, the world and market have changed so much. Five years ago, we decided we actively wanted to bring sustainable solutions to the market. We’re happy the industry moved into this direction, and it feels good being able to present sustainable packaging options,” says Somford.

This was part of the background that led to JASA agreeing to be an Innovation Partner at the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit, as well as an exhibitor in the GreenTech Amsterdam show in June. Both shows were opportunities to talk with visitors about this expanded focus. “We have set up a dedicated engineering team to do R&D specific work on sustainable solutions,” mentioned Somford, adding that some of its successes to date are paper sleeves and trays, and it’s currently working on paper packaging for leafy greens. “These innovations are part of the reason why we were an innovation partner at the AgTech.”

JASA's Joost Somford making a presentation at Indoor AgTech. 

Leafy green packaging trends
The shows also offered a chance to take in trends in the world of leafy greens. It circled back to largely that search for sustainable packaging in both bags and trays. “We also see a shift towards retail packaging in bags instead of trays,” he said, noting that at the same time, CEA-produced leafy greens are sensitive and need to be treated properly. “In the past, we delivered many leafy greens tray packing lines while nowadays more projects we deliver are a combination of tray and bag lines.”

In turn, attendees at the show were largely interested in JASA’s leafy greens fully automated line and its tomato medley line, along with one of the company’s newer items, salad meal kits. “We have been manufacturing meal kit lines for Europe for a long time, and we see an upward trend in North America to automate the packaging process of the salad kits. We also noticed there were a lot of requests for fully automated solutions--from harvest till truck--so we also shared our experiences in processing and case packing,” Somford commented.

Denise Baths, Joost Somford, and Maikel van Wiggen at JASA's booth at GreenTech. 

Looking ahead, he says it’s clear the leafy greens/CEA market is a growing market and will continue to expand over the next few years. “These projects are of considerable size, and many disciplines come together. As a Dutch company, we often already work together with the main contractors and greenhouse builders or have close connections to other builders. Collaboration is very important, and it saves the customer a lot of headaches, time, and money. Together we stand strong.”

Triple leafy greens tray line. 

For more information:
Joost Somford
JASA Packaging Solutions, Inc.
Tel: +1 (804) 290-3683
[email protected]