In the fields and greenhouses in the south of France, smart plastic containers and pallets are being used in the current vegetable harvest to preserve the premium quality of the tomatoes.
Under the distribution cooperation "Les Paysans de Rougeline", French farmers have been marketing various types of fruit and vegetables from the south of France for over twenty years. The Rougeline brand stands for fruit and vegetables of the highest quality and serves the higher price segment. The fruit and vegetables are "grown with love", is the brand's promise. This is not only evident from the high quality of the products, but is also the standard for handling the goods along the entire harvesting and logistics process.
Permanent aeration and temperature exchange of the tomato
For example, "Les Paysans de Rougeline" relies on containers and pallets from the Belgian plastics specialists Gamma-Wopla and Smart-Flow to harvest and transport the tomatoes. For regular vegetables, 2,600 containers of type E6412-2020 from Gamma-Wopla are in use, for organic vegetables 540 bi-colour containers of type PVBI6424-0040 are used. These robust plastic containers offer decisive advantages in handling and design: Slots on the sides ensure permanent ventilation and temperature exchange of the tomato.
As soon as the containers have reached their maximum fill level, they are placed on the appropriate SF 800 PES plastic pallets from Smart-Flow. As the containers are equipped with rails on the upper edges, they can be easily stacked on top of each other and the tomatoes are not pressed and can therefore be sold fresh, intact and in top quality. Only one container can be used from harvest to trade.
The containers are particularly suitable for sensitive products such as tomatoes: "Our plastic containers do not break so easily. Unlike cardboard boxes, for example, they always retain their shape and are resistant to moisture," explains Michaël Cibois, the company's Sales Manager. "Materials such as wood are more stable, but in the rare event of breakage there is a risk of splintering. Thanks to the robust nature of our product and the optimised top edges, even sensitive products such as tomatoes can always be transported safely". The stacking and nesting process makes both full and empty transport as efficient as possible.
Reusable as recyclate
Gamma-Wopla is proud not only of economic but also ecological advantages. Sustainability is an aspect that is particularly close to Mikaël Vandewiele's heart: "At the end of their useful life, the containers and pallets can be bought back on request and used as recyclate for the production of new pallets. This saves resources. This is completely in our spirit and also completely in line with the organic standards of the French farmers' cooperative."
During the tomato harvest, containers from Gamma-Wopla and pallets from Smart-Flow are used / Picture: Gamma-Wopla
As soon as the epidemic broke out, Gamma-Wopla and Smart-Flow took a number of measures to protect employees and customers: "Many of our employees worked from home for several weeks, meetings with customers were postponed. There were also new guidelines for the loading and drivers, the people in production were reorganized so that there was enough space between them, and of course mouth masks and wrists were provided. Production therefore continued during this period, but under different conditions." The hygienic and safe production of the containers and pallets is therefore guaranteed.
"At the same time, our products are easy to clean and disinfect thanks to the special material. This not only protects the harvesters and other employees along the supply chain, but also the plants themselves. Especially with tomatoes, the virus pressure is high and extreme caution is required. That's where our containers and pallets have a big advantage."