Virus sees increase in demand for packaging

Global Sweden SM Farm

Shoppers in Scandinavia are turning their backs on the trend for less packaging in the wake of the coronavirus pan-demic.

Whereas previously the likes of berries, fruit and vegetables were sold in boxes without lids or self-packed in bags, the public is now increasingly demanding agricultural produce be available in plastic boxes with lids.

Martin Dahlberg, CEO of Swed-ish packaging company Oboya, said: “Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, more hygienically app-ropriate packaging is becoming increasingly important as the demand for unpacked fruit and vegetables decreased by at least 50 per cent.”

He went on: “People are a bit hesitant towards loose products now, because of the virus.”

Mr Dahlberg said retail store owners no longer wanted to sell loose produce either: “When we talk to them, they all say there’s a huge decrease in the demand for unpacked tomatoes, so they are all asking for packaged products.”

He said in a recent experiment conducted in Norway, customers were offered a choice of strawberries in a box with a lid or in an open container – and proved conclusively that the first option was now much preferred.

Despite the extra cost, Oboya is now offering boxes and lids to growers to pack their produce in before selling it on.

The additional packaging is piling more pressure on farmers as it involves more work – with less people available to toil on the land.

“For the growers, it might be harder this year to get enough season staff, who usually come from Eastern Europe or south Asia,” said Mr Dahlberg.

“However, the Swedish govern-ment did mark the agricultural sector as essential business, so the borders are open for workers.”

He said his company was able to meet the increased demand for packing materials from its factory in Poland, where production could be increased to a 24 hour, seven days a week operation if necessary.

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