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It’s All in the Packaging

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Practicing sustainability is more than just a catchphrase. It’s an authentic measure used to help operators maintain quality, freshness, and longevity with various foods and ingredients. As the country’s premier produce resource, Markon Cooperative embraces sustainability practices right down to the packaging.

“Markon has been focused on innovation and sustainability from our inception,” says Deena Ensworth, Culinary Innovations Director

for Markon. “We were the first to introduce iceless broccoli, cilantro, and parsley way back in the 1980s—and the industry quickly followed suit. We followed up with many other firsts including staple-free, recyclable cartons, reduced pack sizes to reduce staff injuries, and the most recent, our corrugated recyclable strawberry clamshell that has already prevented over 85 tons of plastic from going into landfills or ocean environments.”

Here’s a quick primer on how Markon has invested in its cartons to help operators best utilize the produce as well as make their kitchens safer and more efficient.

For more than 30 years, Markon’s packaging has been revolutionary and even sets the standards for other companies to follow.

In 1989, Markon was the first to introduce iceless broccoli, cilantro, and parsley. The produce is hydro-vacuum cooled within two hours to four hours of harvest, which retains its shelf-life. Markon was also first to introduce staple-free, recyclable packaging in 1994; debuted first carton packaging in 2001, offering customers options away from cumbersome bags; and in 2002, followed up with the first 40-pound celery pack, creating a lighter option to reduce operator staff’s heavy lifting.

“For me the packaging is more of an aesthetically pleasing thing, they look ‘cleaner’ than the older bulkier plastic containers,” says customer Kyle Hash, who serves as Executive Chef at 28 North Gastropub in Melbourne, Florida. “The cardboard packaging definitely prevents moisture from sitting on the products, thus allowing them to stay dryer and fresher longer. The plastic containers of the past didn’t exactly allow for that.” Throughout the years, Markon has expanded these options with more variety and lighter pack sizes.

Markon is also doing its part to help the environment with eco-friendly packaging.

According to Plastic Oceans International, more than 300 million tons of plastic are manufactured a year, and eight million pieces enter the marine environment each day. Half are single-use products that will exist for centuries.

In 2019, Markon introduced the 4/2-pound MFC Strawberries corrugated clamshell to reduce overall plastic in the distribution chain. The pack has averted more than 85 tons of plastic from landfills since its inception, with 72 tons affected in 2021. Additionally, the cartons contain food-grade adhesives and vegetable-based inks, plus they are biodegradable and 100% recyclable with no wax.

Each Markon carton serves as a blueprint for sustainability, showing operators how to maximize ingredients.

Vital information is printed on all Markon First Crop®, Ready-Set-Serve®, and Markon Essentials® packaging to help guide operators. For example,

the 5-Star Food Safety icon assures them that the item is based on specifications, inspections, and information at five key points: fields, facilities, transportation, distributor warehouses, and the operator’s kitchen. Here is more information in further detail.

Additionally, Markon has created a short-term produce storage guide to help operators identify where to store produce at the proper temperature to maximize shelf life. Following these practices may help reduce ethylene gas exposure.

Additional content on cartons include:

  • GMO Free demonstrates that Markon does not use any GMO ingredients.
  • GF/Gluten Free shows that product does not contain gluten and it is naturally gluten-free.
  • Open This End, a directive so that employees don’t spill by opening wrong side up.
  • Best if Stored At temperature range printed in red ink.
  • QR code on Ready-Set-Serve cartons that leads back to RSS page on website
  • Traceback information is applied to every brand carton that shows grower/exact location/lot was harvested for quick traceback in case of possible recall of product

About Markon
Markon Cooperative, Inc. brings a fresh approach and thinking to all of its premium farm-to-table produce so foodservice operators can bring the freshest ideas to their consumers. Based in Salinas, California, Markon serves as the produce purchasing, logistics, information, and marketing partner for its five member distributors (Ben E. Keith Foods, Gordon Food Service, Gordon Food Service Canada, Nicholas & Company, and Shamrock Foods) and their North American foodservice customers. Learn more about Markon’s commitment to providing the highest-quality, safest, and freshest produce at

By Audarshia Townsend

Diners are increasingly hyper-focused on high-protein and plant-based foods. Alongside all of the new-fangled, lab-based, cell-cultured options out there is the humble bean. A staple food for millenia, beans are being re-examined as a healthy, versatile ingredient worthy of menu inclusion.

  • Retro and heirloom recipes—like Southern succotash, French cassoulet, and Cajun red beans and rice—fit the bill for those in search of authenticity.
  • Most world cuisines incorporate some type of bean in their classic dishes. Think feijoada in Brazil, black beans and rice with plantains in Puerto Rico, and garbanzo beans in Israel. Modern interpretations of these recipes are packed with produce and herbs.
  • The creamy texture of mung beans is proving an ideal substitute for those that are eliminating soy from their diets.