Storage of fresh produce requires bins and boxes sturdy enough to keep fruits and vegetables from bruising as well as sufficient ventilation to prevent mold and allow them to ripen. In addition, the storage system for any type of fruit or vegetable must take into account the shape and size of that particular item in order to use available space as efficiently as possible.
Produce packaging needs to be strong enough to protect delicate, tender fruits and vegetables and sturdy enough to hold heavier items such as potatoes and pumpkins. Waxed boxes offer the advantage of not getting soggy from any moisture that might be on the produce when it is packed or moist air circulating in a cooler. In addition, produce packaging that involves stacking layers of fruits or vegetables must include plastic or cardboard material to place between the layers for cushioning in order to prevent them from crushing and bruising each other.
Produce packaging must be ventilated in order to minimize and prevent mold. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain considerable amounts of moisture, and they also release moisture even when they are only mildly bruised. Plastic bags and crates can trap moisture, increasing the risk of mold. Specially designed produce bags retain enough moisture to keep produce from drying out while providing sufficient ventilation to inhibit the growth of mold.
Fruits and vegetables come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and produce packaging should hold different varieties in configurations that optimize available space. Low, wide boxes are ideal for berries, which are delicate and should not be stacked on top of one another. These boxes should allow sufficient space above the height of the berries to allow the boxes to be stacked without the cardboard touching the berries. Cabbage is a larger, more durable vegetable, and can safely be stored in large boxes that hold as many heads as a typical person can carry.