May 24, 2019

Naturipe’s Janis McIntosh focused on packaging reduction

Janis McIntosh has been a big part of Naturipe for nearly 15 years, but she recently took on a new role — director of marketing innovation and sustainability. Naturipe is a partnership between four fresh berry growers — Hortfruit S.A., Michigan Blueberry Growers, Naturipe Berry Growers and Munger Farms. McIntosh has several certifications from top packaging schools for design, development and sustainable alternatives. She has also helped develop Naturipe’s Cultivate with Care sustainability program and is involved with the Consumer Goods Forum-Plastic Waste Task Force, PMA Sustainability Committee and Monterey County Sustainability Working Group (MCSWG).

When did you first become aware of sustainability?

In the early ‘70s, the University of San Francisco would host a recycling day once a month. Recycling was non-existent back then, but my father would save up all his recycling, put me in the car and drive over to the USF parking lot where we joyfully put all our recycling into the proper dumpsters. My sister’s wedding fell on recycling day, and when it came time for pre-wedding pictures at the house, my dad was MIA. Yep, tuxedo and all, he was off to the dumpsters. Thankfully, he made it to the church on time to walk my sister down the aisle.

What does your new job entail?

Naturipe developed the director of marketing innovation and sustainability role to address not just the growing sustainability needs within the produce industry but to lead from a global view of what’s happening within consumer good packaging and retail.

What are your top goals for the next 12 months?

Packaging reduction is a key component of our Cultivate with Care program. In my new role, I’ll be looking at the newest and best options across industries to incorporate more recycle-friendly packaging. We already use less materials in our clamshells and now have compostable packaging for our organic products that can eliminate the plastic usage by up to 80%. We’re looking for solutions that will benefit every category of the grocery store and every category in retail.

What is biggest challenge facing the produce industry from a perception standpoint?

There is a perception that produce is expensive. As an industry, we need to change the mindset of the consumer and promote the value of farming. This is more than increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, it is about ensuring we deliver a profit back to the farms so they are there for years to come. If farms continue to close and populations continue to grow, our current food system will not be able to feed everyone.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? 

I spearheaded the heat seal clamshell initiative for berries five years ago, which is just now being embraced by retailers.

If you had to pick a favorite berry, which would it be?

They’re all delicious! Why would you pick just one?

What do you enjoy doing away from work?

I grew up with a love of horses and rode my entire life. I’m lucky enough to have one of my own that is just right outside my window so I can continue to ride. Four years ago, I got a crazy idea to learn how to play the Celtic fiddle and now play in a Celtic band. I also have a pet rooster that is looking for a loving forever home.

This is the latest installment of the Produce Processing 7. See more of our profiles below:

Gail Becker, CAULIPOWER

Ron Carkoski, Four Seasons Farm

Nick Desai, Snack It Forward


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