“A ready-to-use mat made from wood fibers,” that is what the company Fibreries de Touraine has to offer. “We are ecological packaging manufacturers, especially for the fruit and vegetable sector,” explains Shirley Donadoni. “We manufacture crate bottoms for these fresh products. We make a mat made from wood fibers which is ready to use since it is already cut to the dimensions of the containers. The buyers then only have to place the mat and then their fruits and vegetables on top of it.”
Since its creation in 1938, this family business was always primarily focused on wood fibers. But 5 years ago, Fibreries de Touraine entered the fruit and vegetable market. “We have been growing since we joined this sector, where the need is real and the wait palpable,” according to Shirley. “Today, we provide for all major French cooperatives. We have also been preparing for 2 years now to address the export market.”
An ancestral product that meets the current demand
“Our customers are generally already interested in the wood fiber, an ancestral product which has always been used to wedge fruits and vegetables. But the novelty of the product we offer made of the same material, is that the buyer does not need to spend any time spreading out the fiber inside the container, since it is already ready-to-use. Therefore, our mat is a real time-saver, without losing any of its authenticity.” The mat is usually used to present premium quality products. The older varieties for instance, where the commercial ambition is to bring the vegetable and its presentation on the wood fiber together around the common notion of terroir.
Besides the marketing aspect, some interesting technical qualities
“First, this product is 100% ecological, so the customers are buying a packaging item which is in line with sustainable development ambitions. This is the main strength of the wood fiber, compared to the plastic honeycomb packagings. Of course, our product also does not pose any problem in terms of food contact. It meets the standardization requirements of the fruit and vegetable sector. Yet another non-negligible advantage of using a wood-fiber mat is that it helps increase the products’ expiry date. Air can indeed pass through the fiber, contrary to the plastic honeycomb packagings which do not allow the fruit to breathe,” explains Shirley. “So using our mat clearly delays the deterioration of the product.”
Besides, large retailers as well as small grocery shops can use and reuse this mat for a long time. And eventually, its woody nature makes the mat compostable, biodegradable and recyclable.
A local manufacturing process
“Regarding production, we work exclusively with wood from within 30 miles of the factory, so we are on the short circuit. Our family business has always focused on hand-crafted production. However, since working on fruits and vegetables, we have been expanding and industrializing. Our goal for 2019-2020 is to really move towards an industrial production of our mats. So we must inevitably integrate all the automated traceability systems regarding production and more. In order to have an optimal traceability system, we must have a production line a bit more “2.0” than our current one. That’s why we are investing to make such changes happen.”
A price not necessarily higher than for the plastic packaging
As for the price of the product, Shirley indicates that “if we take its reusability into account, the general investment is not necessarily higher. Besides, if we consider the marketing aspect, the extra cost from the basic investment is largely damped by the value that the ready-to-use mat adds to the product. Unfortunately, not all are easily convinced of these undeniable qualities. What really convinces the client is the real effect of the mat. That is what makes us sell full trucks.”
Find Fibreries de Touraine at Fruit Logistica (Hall 22 C-08). This year, the company’s booth will be twice as large, in order to present this innovative and ecological mat, which charms the consumer by its authenticity.