A single strategic choice – changing old packages with plastic crates for fruit and vegetables – helped a family owned agribusiness become a distributor for a major retail chain. In this case study we will show how returnable packaging can help businesses improve their brand image, grow their operations and become trusted suppliers for major industry players.
A Small Fruit Producer Struggles to Enter the Big Retail Market
The Logistic Packaging specialists received a message from a family owned agribusiness that owns peach and apricot orchards. They had been unsuccessfully attempted several times to do business with major supermarket chains and sell the fresh fruit in their stores.
The key problem during all previous negotiations: the agribusiness uses wooden and cardboard crates to store and ship their produce. Thus, some of the fruit would be dented or squashed, the cardboard boxes became soggy with fruit juice and the supermarkets did not consider this packaging option safe for the rest of their merchandize.
Evaluating the Packaging Cycle for the Agribusiness Products
Our consultants asked the logistics manager to explain the entire packaging process for their produce, from the moment the fruit is picked from the trees and until they are shipped to be sold.
They soon found out that the agribusiness sustains losses in several points of their inner supply chain due to:
- Using unreliable packaging materials for storage and shipping
- Relying on manual labor for most operations
- Lack of special packaging solutions for cold storage
- Lack of a proper labeling system to separate fruit types and harvest dates.
The Logistic Packaging Team Creates a Roadmap for Change
It was obvious that the company needed a major, strategic change in the way it packages, stores and ships the fresh fruit. Their varieties, apricots and peaches, are soft fruit. Thus, they need special protective packaging as well as fast delivery to the shelf (or marketplace).
Our key recommendations for the family owned agribusiness included:
- Changing the entire stock of packaging materials
- Implementing automation in handling the produce
- Creating a labeling procedure that would allow them to implement the FIFO system.
Our Solution: Plastic Crates for Fruit and Vegetables
There were no second thoughts in our recommendation for packaging: plastic crates for fruit and vegetables. These stackable and foldable crates are available in two versions: reusable and one-way.
We recommended the client to stock on both categories, allowing them to sell their produce both to retail chain and in traditional marketplaces. These plastic crates for fruit and vegetables are the ideal choice for the produce of the agribusiness because:
- They have smooth inner walls that protect the soft fruit from damage
- They have perforated walls and base, allowing proper ventilation to preserve freshness
- They are available in three bright colors (red, blue and green) which allows implementing a color code system.
The Client’s Decision
The agribusiness agreed to implement the returnable plastic crates for fruit and vegetables in the first phase of transforming their operations. They were worried about the total cost of ownership of the new stock of packaging, until our consultants gave them the average data collected over time from other clients.
At the same time, our consultants pointed out that these plastic crates for fruit and vegetables are made of replaceable parts. Thus, when one crate is damaged, they can fix it at a lower cost compared to its full replacement.
The First Results after Implementation
The agribusiness has managed to secure the first distribution contract with a major supermarket chain. The new, professional packaging materials are a perfect match with the expectations of the retail chain, both in terms of safety and handling by logistic machines.
The client is now considering purchasing their first forklift and exploring other ways to automate their produce handling operations. At the same time, they have placed a new order for one-way plastic crates for fruit and vegetables, as they believe it will help them grow marketplace sales and reduce loss.
The Logistic Packaging team is ready to help transform your business into a successful one with high quality packaging solutions and specialized advice. Contact our experts by email or schedule a live Skype chat with us!