Annemarie Dekker, Remmert Dekker Packaging:

“Cardboard a more versatile marketing tool than plastic”

What do chip trays from cafeterias, cardboard beer trays from Heineken and the soft fruit packaging from Nature’s Pride have in common? All of these were invented by Remmert Dekker Packaging. The packaging company now has a wide range of customised cardboard packaging solutions for fruit and vegetables. Cardboard turns out to be a popular packaging material within the market for ready-to-cook meal kits in particular.

“The market is in our favour. The use of cardboard has a good reputation because of its sustainable principles. Plastic, on the other hand, has a less positive reputation,” says Annemarie Dekker, manager of Remmert Dekker Packaging. The family company from Wormer, the Netherlands, develops and produces graceful and functional trays and boxes for retail. She is the fourth generation, and has run the company since 1997.

Innovative packaging solutions
From the start, Remmert Dekker Packaging has dedicated itself to packaging solutions for the food industry. In previous years, the company invested heavily in its R&D department, for which a team of three employees is committed to develop and produce innovative packaging solutions day after day. “We are driven to map what the market is asking for, and then respond in a solution-oriented manner,” she says.

To that end, the company managed to patent packaging solutions that can also be used in the fresh produce trade. For example, DuoDelicous is a cardboard tray with separate compartments that is now also used for tomatoes, among other things. The time is now also ripe for cardboard trays with topseal. “We were looking for an alternative to the plastic trays and punnets that are sealed with topseal for some time. Previously we were unsuccessful with cardboard as the basis, because the edges curled.” The team has found a solution to that. Before the end of the year, a machine will be delivered that can apply a topseal to cardboard without problems. Early in January, it’s expected the machine will be operational.

Cardboard increases experience value
In terms of design and ease of use, cardboard offers more options than plastic, Annemarie explains. “The material might have a larger cost price, but you don’t have to deal with the limitations of traditional PET trays. Plastic can’t be printed, at most you can use stickers. From a marketing perspective, many opportunities go unused that way. Cardboard can be printed on both sides: there’s plenty of space available to add elements that increase the experience value of the final users, such as recipes or background information about the growers. Moreover, our packaging solutions are much more environmentally friendly, because we use completely compostable material. That way, our company contributes to reducing the large amount of plastic waste.”

Depending on the application, Remmert Dekker Packaging selects the right type and strength of cardboard for its customers, both mini-corrugated cardboard and solid cardboard, with their thickness varying to 1.6 millimetres. “A packaging has to fit the product like a glove. That’s why we make everything custom-made in our own studio.”

Fresh produce fairly uncomplicated
Remmert Dekker Packaging doesn’t work with plastic inner layers, but with biodegradable barrier lacquers on water-base, unlike many other suppliers of cardboard packaging. “This doesn’t affect food-safety, meets all quality requirements and has been optimised to be allowed in direct contact with food.”

According to Annemarie, fresh produce products are fairly uncomplicated to pack due to their natural protective layer: their skin. That isn’t true for freshly sliced products, because the packaging is currently not yet fabricated in a completely airtight manner. “That is still a major challenge.”

Ready-to-cook meal kits are a growth market
Annemarie mentions that the market for ready-to-cook meal kits, for making your own soup, curry or pasta meal for instance, has embraced the use of cardboard packaging now. Sealed carry handle packagings made from cardboard also find their way to big grocers increasingly often.

More information:
Remmert Dekker Packaging
Annemarie Dekker

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