OPN Connect Newsletter 344 · November 2, 2023

Sambrailo Packaging Celebrates 100 Years of Out-of-the-Box Thinking

For the last 100 years, Sambrailo Packaging has delivered trend-predicting packaging solutions to support the fruits of farmers' labor.

“Packaging plays such an important role in helping our customers market their valuable crop, no matter what that is,” said Matt Manfre, strategic sales development executive at Sambrailo Packaging.

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Matt Manfre, Strategic Sales Development Executive, Sambrailo Packaging

Charles Sambrailo began in the apple business, then the largest commodity grown in the Central Coast community of Watsonville, California. Those hand-nailed, wooden apple crates, used from 1923 to the 1950s, were coveted then for their stackability and durability.

Charles Sambrailo, Founder, Sambrailo Packaging

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During the mid-century, Sambrailo embraced one of the first key innovations of its century-long history: diversifying its product line to support the evolving crops on California’s Central Coast. As apples moved out of the region, Sambrailo Packaging moved into its “berry-centric” era.


First, Sambrailo stayed true to its original medium, manufacturing wooden crates and small berry baskets. To continue meeting the needs of the berry industry into the 1980s, the company designed the bright yellow cardboard trays featuring the memorable, retro strawberry design. These 12-by-20-inch open, corrugated cardboard trays with green mesh baskets are still used today.

“Packaging plays such an important role in helping our customers market their valuable crop, no matter what that is.” - Matt Manfre

Sambrailo reached the next frontier in packaging in 1987 with the introduction of the industry’s first plastic clamshell. The legend goes that the Sambrailos hatched the idea for the transparent, hinged, ventilated design after a stop at a fast food drive-thru, said Manfre. The containers housing their burgers inspired the produce clamshell that still reigns today as the industry standard.