Cardboard and plastic threats
The company has gone through various good years, the last being in 2007. According to Stijn the demand for wooden boxes seems to be making a comeback. "We are noticing that the fruit and vegetable sector is using other packaging such as cardboard and plastic. For instance palloxes: we used to produce 80,000 annually. Now it's 15,000 at most. The evolution is that more and more companies are using plastic palloxes. Even though there are so many advantages to using wooden packaging. Our products are humidity regulating, antibacterial and the fruit and vegetables stay fresh longer in wooden packaging. Our products are also sustainable and fully recyclable, whereas plastic is bad for the environment. In general the prices for wooden boxes are usually lower than those of cardboard boxes."
Jamart is active in Holland and Belgium. "We are dependent on demand and prices in the fruit market. The best years for us are when high volumes are exported to Russia. This is done in wooden packaging. If the prices of fruit are too high, more stays in the domestic market and cardboard packaging is used more. A few years ago a large customer of ours switched to cardboard packaging for strawberries. This was like a slap in the face for us. Unfortunately this trend has continued, although they still use wooden packaging for open ground cultivation. Our boxes are more resistant to wind and rain than carton boxes are."
Jamart keeps investing in the company and has recently had a new machine installed. "By using this machine the crates are automatically stacked and this saves time in the long run." The production is difficult to plan. "There are almost no agreements made long term. You used to be able to discuss an entire season. We produce based on demand supple every day, and are very dependent on the market. We respond to customer demand right away, but it's uncertain when it will be. We don't want too many supplies, but we have to be ready in case of a last minute order. If customers order in the morning, they often want it ready by the afternoon. We get onto this straight away, and take it to the customer ourselves. The service is our added value. We get most wood from Serbia. This means we have to allow for 2 to 3 days travelling time."
Believing in wooden packaging
Yet Stijn and his brother continue to believe in wooden packaging. "We hope the demand of this sustainable and strong product goes back up. Customers who drop out, indicate that the trade is asking for wooden packaging less. We can see that more and more soft fruit are being packaged in cardboard and hope that this trend won't spread to hard fruit. We hope that the fruit and vegetable sector will be convinced of the positive advantages of wooden packaging. Not just fruit can be packaged in it, vegetables are also better off in it. There are so many possibilities with wooden packaging, but you have to be able to see them."