Robert Schaulis's Picks for United Fresh 2018

Thu. July 5th, 2018 - by Robert Schaulis

CHICAGO, IL - Boasting five shows in one, a slew of networking and educational opportunities, and a venue that couldn’t be beat—in what Carl Sandberg called the “City of Big Shoulders,” this year’s United Fresh was loaded with eye-catching packaging, innovative products, and creative category-expanding ideas. Here are a couple products that stood out to me…

SUNSET® Sweet Bites® Pail with Sunset Snack Pack™

I love a clever design, and with their Sweet Bites, a pail of super sweet tomatoes that comes with a reusable single-serve container, the SUNSET® team has proven that they do too. Introduced late last year, the Sweet Bites pail has come into its own throughout the summer, with high-graphic packaging that encouraged consumers throughout the summer months to take tomatoes on picnics, camping and road trips, and to destinations far afield or near and dear. 

Mission Produce Emeralds in the Rough

Show-stopping packaging was in no short supply at United Fresh, and Mission’s imperfect produce line was one of the strongest. With a bold brand identity and “Wonderfully Wonky” avocados that are cosmetically imperfect, but perfectly flavorful, Emeralds in the Rough are proving this hot-as-can-be category still has room to grow.

Mann Packing Veggie Pasta Nourish Bowls with Plant-Based Protein

With new Basil Pesto and Tomato Bolognese flavors, Mann’s has taken its popular Nourish Bowl line to new heights. The first-ever warm veggie meals to feature plant-based protein—with vegan Chick’n and sausage in each bowl, respectively—these bowls offer the health benefits that consumers demand, in an easy-to-prepare high-graphic package that calls out both health benefits and hardy flavor.

Sonatural Juice Shots

Available in Apple & Ginger, Turmeric & Cayenne, and Watercress, this Portugal-based company’s cold pressed juice shots blew me away—with their piquant flavors and playful packaging. Using HPP (high pressure processing) to ensure optimal shelf-life, Sonatural shots are all natural and comprised of 100 percent fruit and veggie juice. I can’t wait till these 3.7 oz shots make it to my local store.

Volm Companies Volmpack Pouch Bagger

Value-added offerings are becoming more and more ubiquitous, and thankfully, forward-thinking companies like Volm are addressing the need—with intuitive packaging solutions to make pouch bagging easier than ever before. Controlled using a PLC and touchscreen, Volm’s bagger provides a variety of customizable options, including gas flushing, an ink jet drive for printing, thermal embossing, side gusseting, and more. And at an impressive 15 bags a minute, this bagger hummed along at a clip that had show-goers mesmerized.

I was sad to bid Chicago farewell, but I'm looking forward to applying the lesson learned at United Fresh and seeing more forward-thinking products throughout the second half of the year.