While designing a new packaging option for a date grower, Nuconic Packaging knew that protection for the fruit during transit and on the shelves would be an important consideration. Therefore, working with the grower to design the best solution, the company came up with a packaging design especially suited for sensitive fruit transport.
“We took their date rolls and came up with a couple of 3-D drawings we thought would work well,” explains Nuconic CEO Alan Franz of the design process. “The next phase was to give them a 3-D printed prototype to make sure the product fit correctly. We had to create a second one to get the height correct. After that was approved, we made a custom designed insert that held the date rolls firmly in place and presented them nicely.”
Built for automation
Although custom made for the date grower, Nuconic designed it in such a way that it can fit most automating systems around. To do so, Franz and his team, along with the grower, sat down and worked out every detail, from the lids to the pallet size where the containers will eventually go.
"The package itself is simple and straightforward," Franz said. "For this customer, as they needed to protect dates, we ensured the corners were built for rigidity. We also made it work well for automation which is a very important factor in packaging now. Every detail was thought through to make it work as smoothly as possible through the equipment. From how the lids are applied, to making sure they de-nest properly."
To ensure costs were controlled, Nuconic did not create any new tooling, and used existing equipment. As Franz explained, "Rather than invest in expensive new tooling solutions (and passing those costs onto the customer), Nuconic used existing tooling configuration to make the packaging as affordable as possible."
Customized for other fruits
Although designed for dates initially, the packaging can also be used for other fruits. It is also available in numerous different formats, shapes and sizes.
"The packaging is available in different shapes, from square to round, octagonal, and rectangular," Franz shared. "From there, we can also make it into various sizes, according to the customer's needs. It can be compartmentalized in order to display fruit more vividly, or if certain fruits needs more protection than others. We can customize it too so, for example, it can be made taller which can really boost the visual effect of the fruit in the container."
"Other fruit can be accommodated and we will discuss this with the customer, to make sure their fruit is well protected, and is displayed in a way that is appealing as well as efficient in terms of existing packaging equipment and shipping," he continued. "This can be dried fruits, and also fresh. For example, we recently began discussions with a fresh fig grower looking for a solution to their packaging needs."
Nuconic Packaging is based in California, but the company said they are able to distribute nationally, as well as into Canada. They have arrangements with distributors in other parts of the country, and can also ship directly. According to Franz, it depends on the customer's scope and where they are located.
"We have two avenues of distribution, one through distributors, and we can also ship directly to the customer," he explained. "This largely depends on the customer's location as well as what they are ordering and the size of that order. For Canada, we can generally ship directly, while on the East Coast and the Midwest, for example, we do have some distributors there. Overall, this decision is made once we get to know what the customer needs and we can talk about the best way to get the product to them."
Displaying sensitive fruit, and moving it in a protected manner is a growing industry as more people look for convenience products. Companies also want their product to look appealing, as well as remain as fresh and intact as possible to the final destination. Seasonal factors, such as Holidays, also come into play.
"The date market, and dried fruits in general, is definitely a growing market," Franz observed. "Customers are looking for visual impact as well as convenience. At Nuconic, we anticipate what suppliers need ahead of time as we now have a good feel on things like seasonality, and therefore we can react to their needs as they arise."
"We are a nimble company with a lot of expertise, and we can therefore respond to what customers need," he added. "We are always looking to help them out and provide solutions, and we can also make changes and turn things around quickly as required."
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