By packing as late as possible, the importer has the option to offer many types of packaging to retail. That’s why InnoFresh Packing, a subsidiary of BudelPack, became completely dedicated to the automated packing of grapes in the Netherlands in 2015. This season, the automatic packing line 3.0 will enter a new season.
The aim is to supply a great quality product to retail by packing as late in the supply chain as possible at a competitive price. Packing at the last moment combined with a flexible packing line offers the importer the option of offering types of packaging varying from 500-gramme punnets, 250-gramme punnets, 400-gramme punnets, top-seal to pulp punnets or even upright bags. The automated packing line for grapes in punnets developed in-house for this has once again been improved in several areas.
Higher capacity and higher waste accuracy
The grape packing line that was first used late in 2015 has been extensively tested from 2015 to 2017, and in 2018 it was technically completely improved in a number of areas. Capacity is now 150 packages per hour. Waste accuracy has also been improved due to a new weighing system, with the aim of minimising overfill.
The first major challenge was realised in 2018 after four years of development: technically realising an automated packing line with great quality grapes as a result. The cost price of automated packing is currently the same as for manually packing. “Financially, there’s no advantage, nor disadvantage, for the importer, but the most important step to continue developing towards a lower cost price has been made,” says Peter Nieuwkerk, manager and owner of Budelpack.
Cost price reduction of 30%
The improved line will have to be used extensively to decide the design of the next version 4.0. This planned update should realise a 30% lower cost price compared to manually packing. This way, a price that competes with the cost price of overseas packing will also be realised. To gain this experience, a cooperation with an importer, who has at least 500,000 punnets to pack per season, is now sought. The location where this should take place is still flexible, and will be chosen in mutual consultation between InnoFresh and the importer.
Packing in the Netherlands
“Packing grapes in the Netherlands ensures the customer-order-uncoupling point will be changed from the country of origin to the Netherlands,” account manager Patrick Koppejan explains. “Retailers want to decide the packaging to use to offer product to consumers as late as possible. When grapes are already packed when imported, it’s like the Model T-Ford: you can choose anything, as long as it’s in 500-gramme punnets. This will be changing now.”