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Fred Heptinstall, CEO of Polymer Logistics North America

"Retailers say that wood-look of RPCs increases sales by 6-9 percent"

Packaging can be just as important as the product itself, particularly for fresh, perishable foods. In today’s competitive marketplace retailers look for new ways to present the products they sell as well as protect quality, freshness, and shelf life. 

“From our perspective, retailers are looking for ways to make their shoppers’ experience more satisfying and more rewarding,” says Fred Heptinstall, CEO of Polymer Logistics North America. “Produce and other fresh perishables sold in the perimeter of the store are destination departments. Differentiation through high quality, fresh, and fully stocked displays enhance the shopping experience and create a competitive advantage for retailers. Accomplishing this through a sustainable and efficient supply chain creates value for the consumer, customer, and grower.”

Polymer Logistics’ Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) help retailers and growers alike achieve their profit and shopper satisfaction goals. Innovative RPC design, such as the wood-look crate pioneered by Polymer Logistics, brings a “farm fresh” ambiance to the produce department. “Retailers are telling us they’re seeing anywhere from six to nine per cent sales increases using the wood-look RPC and in-store processes aligned to support the growth,” says Heptinstall. 

Display & stand alone units
Polymer Logistics has also created RPC promotional display units that can stand alone or attach to display tables to create an easy-to-shop “spillover” for high volume or featured products. “We know that promotional displays can deliver as much as 15% incremental volume,” continues Heptinstall. “However, traditional disposable displays can have high production, supply chain, and operational costs. With our solution, the promotional base is built for long-term use, fits the décor of most stores, and our standard RPC crates sit easily and securely on top. This makes stocking and restocking easy, and the empty crates are returnable and reusable through the standard pooling process.”

Sustainable & efficient operations from field to store & back again
With Polymer Logistics RPCs, produce handling is significantly reduced. This not only protects quality, it reduces cost. Product is packed directly into clean, sanitized crates, which are then shipped to distribution centers and on to stores. “Once they reach the distribution center and the store it’s a more efficient packaging system to handle,” said Heptinstall. “Our RPCs have ergonomically-designed handles so they can be loaded and unloaded easily. In addition, the standard, interlocking footprint creates a stable pallet suitable for the produce supply chain.”

When the crates are empty, they're returned to one of Polymer Logistics 5 service centers across the US, where they are washed, sanitized, and returned to growers to start the cycle again. “Unlike single-use packaging, Polymer Logistics RPCs can be continuously reused for as long as 10 years. They’re very durable. If one needs to be taken out of circulation, we use the material to remold into a new crate. It’s a very responsible use of limited resources.” 

Poised for growth
Adoption of RPCs in North America has accelerated over the past 10 years. “Overall, the attitude in the market has changed quite dramatically, and utilization is now beyond the tipping point. I expect to see continued growth.” Heptinstall says it’s an exciting time to be in this business – and an exciting time for fresh produce, too. “This is one of the ways retailers can differentiate themselves and they know that. They’re working hard to make sure that happens, especially with ‘dot coms’ getting into the fresh side. We’re uniquely positioned to help both our growers and retailers innovate for success.”

Polymer Logistics opened two new service centers within the last year: one in Portage, Indiana (October 2016) and one in Dublin, Georgia (March 2017). The facilities provide RPC pooling, sanitizing, and redistribution logistics for Polymer Logistics customers and support Polymer Logistics expanding geographic reach, volume growth, and on-going commitment to outstanding customer service. “The new operations are running extremely well,” Heptinstall says. “We’re already running a three-shift operation in our Georgia facility, way ahead of schedule.” Doing far better than anticipated, Heptinstall estimates that they’re about 12 months ahead of where they thought they’d be at this time. “We’ve had very positive growth and look forward to continuing to help our growers and retailers achieve their goals.” 

For more information:
Josh Kling
Polymer Logistics
Ph: (813) 614-4140
Sherrie L. Terry Consulting, LLC 
Ph: (513) 324-6459

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