At a time like this it is logical that buyers of fruit and vegetable packaging look at the price first. A focus on the total processing cost can really make a big difference. This is according to agricultural sales manager Ronald Borst from Van der Windt Verpakking. "New techniques ensure that suppliers of packaging can be logistically efficient and achieve benefits." As an example he showcased a new interior for pear crates which saves space and money. 

Due to increasing demands suppliers are forced to invest more in packaging. Packaging must also conform to the highest requirements in terms of food safety. The use of durable FSC paper is a more common requirement but has a cost. Forced by the tight margins, many suppliers in the fruit and vegetable sector search for suppliers and opportunities to save. A cheaper package is soon found. "But it is not just about the price," notes Ronald Borst. "There is also great value for money in our sector. A packaging which is more expensive can compensate in other ways."

New pear crate interior
A good example in the agricultural sector is the new interior for pear crates. New techniques from the supplier have led to many improvements. The new paper quality is much lighter in weight and, with the introduction of an extra liner, is double sided. Fruit grower Raymond Roest has had a positive experience. "This interior offers great advantages in processing. The wave in wave interiors do not have to be pulled apart and a packer does not have to think about how the interior of the crate lies since both sides can be used. Labour in the Netherlands is still one of the major cost factors, so even if an interior appears slightly more expensive to buy, it is actually cheaper in practicality than it appears to be. Besides advantages in processing, the new interior also has logistical advantages and more units fit on a pallet.' 

Unauthorised substances
"We haven't even mentioned the possible use of substances in cheaper packaging which are not allowed. Just recently I got a test report regarding a cheap fruit packaging which is used regularly on the market. There were a number of substances used in the packaging on the list of prohibited substances in the Dutch Commodities Act," explained Ronald.

Packaging which is used for fruit and vegetables must be of the highest quality standards in the field of food safety. Retailers send suppliers a continuous stream of documents with questions about materials with exotic names such as a recent example "Anthraquinone".

"To anybody concerned we declare that this substance is not in use by any product provided by us, or in any packaging used. We are prepared for this and always are," reports Ronald Borst. "We ensure that our high quality raw material suppliers use paper liners without any pollutants. That would be unacceptable. Of course, these materials are provided with the necessary documents and certification which declare our products are free of these offending contaminants, such as came to light recently in Germany." The list of substances not allowed seems endless and it would appear from the questions asked that no end is in sight."

As Borst knows, "You then have only one equation in determining the price factor of packaging to use. Certified, food safe, paper is more expensive per ton than 'coloured schrenz-liners (recycled red paper) unnecessarily coloured with dyes from unknown sources."

For more information:
Ronald Borst
Van der Windt Verpakking
Tel: +31 174-636218