In many places, packaging made of wood still has an image problem. They are however, ahead in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. According to initial studies by the World Health Organization (WHO), the viruses remain alive for up to 12 hours on wooden surfaces, while on other surfaces, i.e. plastic, stainless steel, glass and masonry, they remain demonstrably multipliable for up to 96 hours. "This once again confirms that wood not only provides effective protection against bacteria, but also has excellent natural hygiene properties in general," explained Uwe Groll, Managing Director of the GROW Verein für umweltfreundliche Holzverpackungen. But do consumers know this as well?
The crisis has the packaging industry firmly in its grip. The focus is on measures to protect the consumer. The manufacturers of wooden crates have taken comprehensive internal hygiene measures. These include regular hand washing and disinfection, internal distance regulations in production and administration as well as the wearing of face masks as required.
Part of the GROW team at the organisation's stand at Fruit Logistica 2020.
The GROW members are currently stocked sufficiently. They are fast and flexible enough to ensure the regional supply of wooden crates for fruit and vegetables. "As a partner of the agricultural sector, we see it as our duty to maintain these stocks and remain able to deliver. When we are needed, we are there. Wood packaging is generally ordered and delivered at relatively short notice, so we feel well prepared", explained Uwe Groll.
Overall, the mood is calm because it is difficult to estimate how the harvest will go: "The strawberry harvest is particularly important for us but difficult to appraise; we don't know what can actually be harvested. We welcome the measures taken to supply the harvest helpers and want to be at the customer's side to help them get through the crisis, because the products are definitely needed. We will be happy to ensure that the goods arrive at the sales displays in healthy and safe packaging."
The GROW team with Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture at the Fruit Logistica stand (Photo: GROW e.V.)
There is no need to worry about selling fruit and vegetables: "People are at home and cooking and barbecuing more. That's why we expect demand to continue to rise and sales to be high. We are prepared for this demand."
Meanwhile, the WHO has already collected and published first data on corona viruses on wooden surfaces. In summary, it can be stated that wooden surfaces are comparatively "virus-proof". This is mainly due to the microstructure of the wood and the antimicrobial substances present in the wood. Again, the porous surface proves to be an advantage over other supposedly easy to clean surfaces made of other materials. "There are always waves of rethinking among consumers, and now is just such a time. Many are afraid of bringing pathogens into the house with reusable packaging."
Fruit and vegetables -strawberries, in this case - will keep fresh for a particularly long time in the microclimate of the wooden crates. (Photo: GROW e.V.)
The manufacturers of GROW Germany also undertake to only deliver packaging that has not been in direct contact with people for at least one day. That ensures that the wood will have disinfected itself if that was necessary.
The wood industry also advocates general solidarity: "Only together can we get through this crisis, and for this we are part of some initiatives of the industry. For example, we are providing free packaging for aid kitchens and other charitable organisations, for example in Spain and Italy."