Packaging has seen a big boost in sales this year as a result of the pandemic. Just like everyone else in the industry, the ability to be flexible proved vital for packaging companies, but for Fox Packaging, flexibility is already built into their standard operations. Aaron Fox, President of Fox Solutions and Executive Vice-President of Fox Packaging shares: “Rapid changes in both internal and external demands frequently necessitate change in different areas of manufacturing: lower price points and production costs, higher quality and shorter throughput time are constantly integrated. These demands require a high degree of flexibility and more dynamic decision making later in the production chain.”
Keeping produce at optimal freshness
“It is packaging’s goal to protect fresh produce during packing, distribution, as well as in-store,” Fox says. Fox Packaging has an extensive portfolio of packaging options to address these needs, as well as offering the customer the flexibility to design the packaging to reflect their marketing strategy. “Our packaging designs offer versatile styles that cater to the specific needs of each commodity, understanding their individual requirements for respiration, packing and consumer preference,” says Fox.
The mesh-design of the Fox Fresh Mesh line features woven polyethylene that is non-abrasive to sensitive commodities and allows the products to maintain optimal freshness. “Our mesh offers high breathability, allowing a product to respire naturally without collecting ethylene, and promotes airflow. In addition to protecting the produce, our Fox Fresh Mesh Combo and our Fox Stand Up Combo both offer large print spaces that showcases the customer’s brand, art and messaging,” says Fox.
Focus on sustainability and recyclability
While the demand for sustainability took a slight dip at the start of the pandemic, the overall desire for sustainable packaging options has not waned. Fox Packaging works closely with their suppliers to ensure the recyclability of their packaging, Fox shares. “As members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition®, we are an approved printer of the How2Recycle® label, a label system which highlights a universal recycling language. By showcasing this label, brand owners who’ve opted to join the cause of diverting materials from the landfill can educate consumers on designated and proper recycling strategies,” Fox says.
In addition to working on their packaging’s recyclability, Fox Packaging also looks to address the issue of food waste through their packaging. “Our Fox Combo Ultra Shield bag reduces UV light intake in russet potatoes by 8% in comparison to a poly bag. This is a direct contributor to reduced rates of food waste,” Fox shares.
The Fox Solutions Pouch Bagger 2
Fox Solutions is Fox Packaging’s sister company, and they extend automation solutions for each of the packaging applications. “Automation has directly increased competitiveness by eliminating errors and waste, improving efficiency and productivity, and expanding profit margins. The cost savings can then be diverted into other avenues, such as R&D or other business improvements,” Fox says. “Automation can be established in a nearly no-hands line setup, and equipment can serve companies in many unique and specific ways. For example, palletizers are used widely by companies of all sizes who desire to minimize the risk of employee injury from repetitious, manual stacking of the bags,” he adds.
The FSPB2 pouch bagger supports a large range of produce, from sensitive products like apples, avocados, and cucumbers to more hardy commodities like potatoes and citrus. “It is a tremendously versatile machine that does not require proprietary packaging. Coupled with high-performance Newtec weighers, our pouch bagger delivers a solution to nearly any commodity type,” says Fox. The FSPB2 also has a soft-fill feature that permits commodities like apples to be packed at speeds up to 18 bags per minute. The footprint of the machine accommodates packinghouses of all sizes.
“Through Fox Solutions, automated packaging equipment offers a competitive edge with the ability to control production output, reduce overall waste, and accommodate various packaging formats without significant tooling. It is our intention to be a partner who works in support of our customers’ operational excellence in the packinghouses and on the store shelf,” Fox adds.
Impact of Covid-19
Throughout the pandemic, Fox Packaging has seen increased order volumes. “As growers, shippers, and packers anticipated their packaging needs to fulfill the increased demand for fresh produce on the shelves, our order volumes went up. Navigating communication with our customers became that much more critical, as it was fundamental to offer both transparent updates and peace of mind during what has certainly been an unprecedented season,” Fox explains.
Fox Packaging expects that the current challenges will not go away in the coming year. “In light of Covid-19, there have been increased orders of packaged items, as well as bulk items transitioning into retail-pack sizes. We’re seeing increased orders for small consumer pack sizes of 1, 3, and 5lbs, specifically for products such as onions, potatoes and citrus. We anticipate that this will continue through 2021 as there is a continued decrease in food service and a driven increase through retail demand,” Fox concludes.