Strawberries love corrugated cardboard

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Pakkasmarja is a Finnish company that delivers Finnish berries from its base in Suonenjoki to everywhere in Finland. This summer the company was one fo the first to use Stora Enso’s new EcoFreshBox made of corrugated cardboard.

Every year Pakkasmarja (“Frozen Berry”) distributes Finnish berries from about 300 contracted berry farmers to retail stores – fresh and frozen. The company has been operating in the berry business for nearly 40 years and has therefore plenty of experience on the challenges, packaging materials and supply chain demands related to fresh berries. On the way from the fields to the shopping cart of the consumer, the berry box may be exposed to rain and sun alike, and for this reason the corrugated cardboard boxes used for berries must absolutely endure condension.

"Fresh strawberries are particularly challenging to pack, and it is extremely important that they are packed into boxes that support their shelf life in the store. We have found the quality of the Stora Enso corrugated cardboard boxes really good, and this influenced our choice of the new box,” says Terhi Janatuinen, who in charge of fresh berry sales and marketing at Pakkasmarja.

EcoFreshBox is a hybrid solution

A test batch of red-printed EcoFreshBoxes left Pakkasmarja in the beginning of June, and the company is looking forward to continuing with the product. It seems like they have found a packaging solution that serves the best interest of both berries and customers.

“The stores are telling us that customers prefer transparent plastic boxes, but Finnish strawberries that are sweet and soft do not like plastic,” Janatuinen says.

EcoFreshBox is sturdy enough to protect the berries and extend their shelf lives, which is what stores want. Another notable innovation is the reliable closing mechanism of the transparent plastic lid. The open 500-gram EcoFreshBoxes can be covered by a see-through lid made by Infia.

“We use a hybrid version of the box,” says Marko Ryyttäri, who procures the boxes for fresh berries at Pakkasmarja. He is also happy about the boxes being so stackable.

In addition to brand visuals, important product information can be printed on the corrugated cardboard box so that the berries can look their very best under the transparent lid.

Berries from the nature, boxes from the forest

A trader of natural products, Pakkasmarja’s packaging design is steered by sustainability, and the completely recyclable corrugated cardboard made of wood fibre is a material to their liking. During long-term cooperation, various packaging solutions have been under scrutiny at Stora Enso DesignStudio, too.

“In product development, we regard naturality important, and we usually boldly experiment with and test new solutions,” Ryyttäri says.

Before EcoFreshBox, the Pakkasmarja farmers have used corrugated cardboard sleeves slid over plastic boxes and boxes with cardboard lids, for example. New packaging alternatives are given to selected farmers, and their feedback is used to help product development. This summer EcoFreshBox is tested at about 10 farms.

High expectations for the future

Marko Ryyttäri is happy for the fact that the new box reduces the amount of plastic used by the company. The test batch alone translates into 100,000 strawberry-red EcoFreshBoxes made of renewable materials transported from Pakkasmarja to stores. The boxes are indeed printable – another reason for praise – and with the red look of Pakkasmarja, they clearly stand out on store shelves.

Both Ryyttäri and Janatuinen would be happy to use completely wood-based packaging, so Pakkasmarja at least is looking forward to what future innovation may bring. Perhaps the Stora Enso designers will one day find a way to create a transparent fibre-based lid. 

Achieving the right shade of red print is important to Pakkasmarja. The colours of the strawberry box designed by Juho Viironen of Packlab reproduce correctly on EcoFreshBox.