Two Finnish companies, Metsä Board and Närpes Grönsaker, conducted a recent study checking the differences between paperboard and plastic packaging.
Most packed fruit and vegetables (like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, sweet peppers and many others) are usually packed in plastic trays. However, the increasing ecological awareness is causing many suppliers to try and reduce plastic usage, and find alternatives to the traditional plastic packaging.
This is what led these two Finnish companies to commission a study that compared cherry tomato cartons made of paperboard with the currently used plastic trays. The study specifically looked at consumer perceptions, food waste aspects and climate impact.
The main issue against carton packs was lack of visibility. Consumers generally welcomed the carton’s recyclability but also said that with a plastic tray they can inspect the product better. They want to see and check the product before buying it, especially when it comes to vegetables and fruits.
The research also looked at the shelf-life of cherry tomatoes packed in a recycled plastic container or in a carton box. To compare both packaging materials effectively, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland studied the shelf-life of cherry tomatoes packed either in cartons or in a plastic box made of recycled PET. The results were quite interesting: Cherry tomatoes were preserved at least as well in paperboard cartons as they were in plastic trays.
The results show that consumers regard paperboard as a more responsible choice and are even willing to pay more for it. Also, it demonstrated that the paperboard cartons preserved cherry tomatoes at least as well as the plastic equivalent. Now they just need to come up with a creative solution for the visibility issue, and start manufacturing carton packages.