EarthFresh, an international company with operations in the US and Canada, specializes in supplying the retail and foodservice industries with both conventional and organic potatoes, carrots, and onions.
The company has been noticing a major shift towards sustainability, which aligns with its philosophy that “real” food comes from the earth, and it’s important to take care of the environment and those who live in it. That’s why EarthFresh established a sustainability program in 2016.
Jessica Hughes, Director of Innovation, EarthFresh Farms
“Over the past several years, one of our goals has been to ensure that all our packaging is either recyclable or compostable,” said Jessica Hughes, director of innovation at EarthFresh. “Selling packaged fresh produce is essential as the package provides food safety, less damage, reduced food waste, and convenience to the supply chain and the consumer. We, as an industry, must find environmentally ‘smart’ solutions to ensure that we are not harming the environment along the way.”
Organic mixed baby potatoes in compostable packaging
Lately, many of EarthFresh's customers have approached the company with questions about its sustainability program and how they can achieve their own sustainability goals.
“Over the past several years, one of our goals has been to ensure that all our packaging is either recyclable or compostable." -Jessica Hughes
“The recent interest is very encouraging, and we are excited to see the progress the industry can make over the next five years,” said Hughes. “We have made significant progress towards our goals, but it is hard to make systematic change without buy-in from all our customers and suppliers.”
This fall, EarthFresh will be releasing a new line of 100-percent compostable paper organic bags that will be available in 5-pound and 10-pound formats for red, yellow, and russet potatoes.
Currently in the organic potato world, larger pack sizes aren't available as often, with common packs being 1 pound, 1.5 pounds, and 3 pounds.
“As organic potatoes become more popular with consumers, and as more families begin to favor organic produce, we will see the demand for larger pack sizes escalate,” Hughes said. “Finally, offering this organic product in a compostable bag attracts buyers who value sustainability. It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the earth where our potatoes grow.”
The product came about thanks to the company’s New Product Development Team, which conducts extensive research before the launch of anything new.
This fall, EarthFresh will be releasing a new line of 100-percent compostable paper organic bags, that will be available in 5-pound and 10-pound formats for red, yellow, and russet potatoes.
“We conduct market research, ensuring that the new product is desirable, better than existing products, meets the target market we are after, and that the market is large enough to make the investment worthwhile,” Hughes said. “We will then search for new suppliers throughout the world who have unique offerings that we can use to differentiate our new product. Once we have found the ‘winning’ material, we will perform rigorous testing in our own Innovation Lab, where we will ensure that the new product meets our expectations—shelf-life, greening, biodegradability, works on our equipment, performs well in the supply chain, etc.”
EarthFresh organic potatoes in compostable packaging at OPS
Once a new product is ready to go ready to go, the company will work on its go to market strategy, which includes marketing research, trends in design, messaging, marketing channels, consumer focus groups, and in-store trials.
EarthFresh highlighted its compostable line in the Innovations Showcase at Organic Produce Summit and at SEPC's Southern Innovations show. It’s also beefing up its marketing measures to get the word out.
"Offering this organic product in a compostable bag attracts buyers who value sustainability. It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the earth where our potatoes grow.” -Jessica Hughes
“We are using print and digital advertising with the industry trades,” Hughes said. “We are educating consumers and building awareness through our social media channels. We are driving SEO with compostable website call-outs and updated product links.”
The early word has been very positive and EarthFresh believes that the new compostable paper organic bags will be a hit with consumers.