Project start: 15.07.2022
Project end: 14.07.2025
Sponsor: Federal Office for Agriculture and Food
Potted herbs play a special role among foodstuffs, as they can continue to be productive for consumers through vegetative growth. More than half of the households in Germany buy fresh herbs at least once a year. The goods are packed in pots, bags and trays, most of which are made of plastic. Numerous conflicts of objectives with economics, product quality or logistics have so far prevented a switch to plastic-free packaging. Furthermore, there is hardly any knowledge about how potted herbs are handled in households. What is clear is that the production and use usage conditions differ greatly in terms of environmental factors such as light and temperature or plant care, which affects the shelf life and thus the product benefit. In the ExtraHerb project, the conflicting goals are worked out and holistically evaluated, optimised concepts for potted herb packaging are developed and tested by interdisciplinary research partners (economic and plant cultivation) as well as practical partners (nursery, packaging manufacturer, retail trade). First, in a so-called reconnaissance exloration phase, the handling of potted herbs along the supply chain will be recorded and their use in households documented (e.g. environmental factors, handling of packaging and potted herbs, shelf life, consumer attitudes, etc.). From this, "typical" handling and use usage scenarios are defined. Subsequently, in a development phase, prototypical solutions are designed for these scenarios that make do with less plastic without compromising quality, product attractiveness at the POS, shelf life, etc. In a final testing phase, these solutions are evaluated under standardised conditions (durability tests at the university and sales tests in the supermarket), also accompanied by consumer surveys, a cost analysis and an ecological assessment (CO2 footprint).