Episode 171: Kaci Komstadius

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Episode 171 Kaci Komstadius Quote

While she recycled household products as a child, Marketing Manager at Sage Fruit Company Kaci Komstadius was influenced to take further steps to living a more sustainable lifestyle after seeing how conscious her fiance’s family is with reducing waste. After applying it to her home, she then began to take it to her job at Sage Fruit and began researching more sustainable and earth-friendly product packaging for the company.

Owned by multiple growers, packers, and shippers, Sage Fruit Company is a sales and marketing firm of northwest tree fruits located in Washington supplying fruit year-round. While you might see Sage Fruit products in your local grocery stores, their products are shipped and sold across the globe. Memories of picking fruit at roadside stands with her grandparents drew Kaci Komstadius to the company and, as the Consumer Marketing Manager, she’s now on a path to provide more sustainable produce packaging.

Growing up, Kaci and her family recycled “easy” items like newspapers and aluminum cans but their sustainability ended there. After seeing how low-waste her fiance’s family was, she decided to pay more attention to her usage as well. It then became a passion project for her at home by finding different and easier ways to cut out waste. After just adding at-home compost, her household of two got down to creating just one bag of trash a week.

This began to translate into her job working in crop farming. Kaci began to realize the amount of packaging that was put into fresh produce and she wanted to find a way to make it better.

As much as we want to be good stewards of the earth, the grab-n-go model in grocery stores works quite well.  As consumers, sometimes we want to do what’s quickest and simplest, and that doesn’t always consist of an earth-friendly option.

With that in mind, Kaci set a goal to find a different kind of earth-friendly product packaging that is going to allow that “easy” model to still take place, without having a negative impact on the planet.

Any type of change is challenging, and Kaci certainly faced that. More sustainable options are also more expensive. Consumers want to have packaging that is more earth-friendly, but the reality is they may not be willing to pay extra for it. Growers and stakeholders still need to make their bottom line, and more times than not, earth-friendly product packaging might not always fit in. It has been helpful, though, to see many big retailers make a public push for sustainable options like setting goals of “no plastic bags by 2023”. This shows they want these options, and that has been a driving force for Kaci to take steps to find them.

Episode 171 Kaci Komstadius Quote

After loads of research, Kaci and Sage Fruit are currently testing a Bio-Able bag for their organic cherries. Organic cherries were chosen as it’s more likely something the demographic of organic consumers are looking for. While these bags aren’t technically biodegradable, they do break down two years after production. Kaci found this to be a perfect option for consumers that aren’t necessarily composting at home, but are looking for a way to do something better. Even though these bags may be sent to the landfill, they do break down quicker than plastic bags and create biogases. The recycling loop closes, as landfills are collecting these biogases and then selling them to energy companies as a renewable energy source.

The biolabel bag for organic cherries is only the beginning for Sage Fruit Company. While it’s a long process, they’re continuously working on the first steps on innovation for sustainable produce packaging.

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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