Fruit and vegetable growers and marketers are facing rising costs when placing their products on the market. One of the inputs that have seen the highest price increase is packaging materials, including cardboard, plastic, and wood. This is a consequence of high energy and fuel costs and severe supply problems caused, in part, by the high cost of ocean freight due to the shortage of containers.
"Wood supply problems have caused prices to triple," says Alberto Palmí, director of the Spanish Federation of Wooden Packaging and its members (FEDEMCO). "We have never seen anything like this before. In addition to the rising cost of raw materials, those of electricity, cutting and processing, machinery parts, and so on are also going up. Wood packaging manufacturers are being forced to raise prices after having already covered a considerable share of these cost increases. In fact, some packaging companies continue to bear them for fear of losing customers."
According to Alberto Palmí, one of the main causes of the wood packaging supply problem is "the massive purchases in Europe made months ago by countries such as the United States and China. Also, a small part of the wood that is processed in Spain for the manufacture of containers and pallets comes from Brazil, but for months now, hardly anything has been arriving from this country due to the high cost of sea freight: in fact, freight costs more than the goods transported in the containers. In any case, the lack of containers is making it impossible to load the goods."
Pallet manufacturers are dealing with even greater supply problems. "Wood for pallets is now more expensive than that used for containers, when traditionally it has always been the other way around. Some factories have run out of wood, while wood prices continue to rise. At what price should fruit and vegetables be sold to maintain profitability?" says Alberto Palmí.
"However, and despite being ready when it comes to wood stocks, the demand for packaging containers is generally lower for the time being, given that the export of Spanish fruit, including citrus and kakis, has dropped compared to the same time last season. This is especially the case in overseas destinations, which usually prefer this type of packaging as it can better withstand humidity rates and therefore facilitate the preservation of fruit and vegetables. Nevertheless, we are confident that the market will stabilize again, as it always does," says the director of FEDEMCO.