Is there still space at wholesalers for fruit and vegetable packaging? Not that they don't need it at all, but stock sometimes takes up quite a lot of space. Couldn't another method of stock control be cheaper and more effective? And what about packaging that can be used several times, like plastic crates (reusable packaging)? Or does the sector still prefer cardboard boxes (single-use packaging)?
At most companies, packaging stock just takes up space.
"Ultimately, packaging stock management is all about space, flexibility, and cost," says Sieto de Vreeze of Quality Pack. This Dutch company specializes in single-use packaging for the fruit and vegetable sector. They're currently constructing a new building. There, they want to consolidate all their activities. These are now spread out across various locations.
Sieto, and his colleague, Marnix van der Caaij, see the new site's location as an advantage. It'll be considerably closer to their buyers. "This advantage is partly due to Quality Pack's logistical function, as well as the vast know-how it offers - Just-in-time delivery of a total packaging material package."
"There are ample packaging material producers that are perfectly capable of making nice products. But, there's also enormous diversity. Packers in the fruit and vegetable sector, therefore, don't have to wait for massive stocks. We see that square footage is becoming increasingly important for these companies' core business. That's why we met with several parties. We developed a model that includes stock control, flexibility, and cost management. This model's made us an extension of our partners," says Sieto.
This is where Quality Pack's new premises will be - in the De Dijk business park in Maassluis, the Netherlands.
Sieto and Marnix compare it to a mobile store driver. "In the past, this guy would go door to door with his mobile store. He'd have everything the customer needs for their home, without people having to ask. We supply a total package of what's needed for that day. We fine-tune the systems, so we know exactly what's needed."
"Since it concerns just-in-time deliveries, we can be flexible. If more packaging's unexpectedly needed, we can quickly supply it." There's a clear demand for such solutions in the fruit and vegetable sector. Sieto and Marnix, however, don't see this happening quickly in other sectors. "It's a real added value for both our clients and us," they say.
So much for stock management. What about the packaging itself? "We noticed a trend over the past ten years. People want more reusable packaging and unpacked products," says Sieto. "But this development has been canceled out. That's because of all the recent changes. These are around the coronavirus and the ToBRF-virus in the tomato sector."
"This year, we've seen a huge growth in cardboard boxes. Many people are questioning whether multiple-use containers can sufficiently guarantee hygiene in the chains. At the consumer level, there's a strong tendency toward packaged goods again. Shoppers are extra cautious of unpackaged products at the moment. That's due to the coronavirus."
"Food safety and hygiene are high on the agenda since the coronavirus outbreak. But, at the same time, people are gradually realizing there are enormous amounts of food being wasted. In 2019, households threw an average of more than 34kg of food away a year, per person. Let alone the mountains of supermarket waste. This wastage has a far larger impact on the environment than using packaging material. But the ball's now in the producers' court. They must sustainably produce packaging material that's as recyclable as possible. At Quality Pack, we're working hard on that," concludes Sieto.