Friday, June 27, 2008

Star fruit gets new packaging

Excerpt from The Packer 6/23/08 article

By Haley Jones, Staff Writer

Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., is introducing a clamshell package for its star fruit.
The custom-built StarPac will hit stores in August, in time to kick off star fruit season. The new package costs about 10 cents more than the regular package. Brooks expects to ship 120,000 cases of star fruit, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director. The number of new packages that would be shipped had not yet been determined.

"We know that customers will buy it, but we think it will be a gradual increase. We're letting the orders dictate what we pack," Ostlund said.

The package provides a plastic wall of separation between the two pieces of fruit that come in a package. It also allows air to circulate throughout the package with improved ventilation, Ostlund said.

Brooks performed a number of pilot trials testing the effectiveness of StarPac at protecting the fruit.
The company found StarPac kept fruit fresher than standard packaging and increased ripening time, improving the fruit's shelf life and quality. During the tests, the clamshell also protected against bruising from excessive customer handling, Ostlund said.

The star fruit is grown near Fort Myers, Fla. Ostlund said the soil is acidic enough to give the fruit a good size while maintaining its sweet taste.

The specialty produce company expects the new packaging to enhance star fruit sales nationwide.

Star fruit is especially popular with kids, who love fun the shape, Ostlund said. "StarPac showcases the oddly-shaped fruit that kids love to see and retailers are catching on," Ostlund said.