Fruit sales in vending machines have fallen sharply since Covid's arrival. Fru&Tube, a Spanish company that pioneered the packing of fruit in portable tube-shaped packaging with a patented system, as well as the sale of fruit in hospitals and universities through vending machines, will now offer its packaging to the fruit and vegetable and food sector in general.
"The pandemic has reduced our sales by around 80% and they are not recovering, since in the hospitals where we had the machines set up, patients are only given access by appointment and this has led to many patients not having the companions who used to walk around the hospital with them," says Carlos Méndez, CEO of Fru&Tube. "12,000 people consumed fruit from a single machine in a hospital, the first one we installed. People are really willing to eat more fruit if we give them more options," he says.
"So we've had to reinvent ourselves and are now focusing on developing packaging for third parties, regardless of whether they sell fruit, nuts, food products in general, or even flowers, etc. This has saved us during the pandemic," says Carlos Méndez.
The most suitable products for these tube packs, according to Carlos, are cherries, table grapes, blueberries, strawberries, specialty cherry tomatoes, and so on. "Value-added fruits such as Cotton Candy table grapes would get a greater sales boost if they were presented in a tube that could be printed with any background, compared to tubs, which are usually labeled."
"Tube packaging is a substantial improvement over the packaging formats available on the market, from the classic bags to tubs and plastic cups. In addition to attracting more attention, since it allows printing, consumers appreciate the convenience of the package, which can be opened and closed as many times as desired, since it has an opening system without adhesives, and is more comfortable to carry due to its cylindrical shape, which allows the product to be placed vertically or horizontally depending on the type of surface," says Carlos Méndez. "The container allows the fruits to be washed without the need to extract them. Moreover, we are already offering it in PLA and biodegradable plastic."
Although the tube has a higher production cost than its competitors, the tubs, Carlos says that "this is not a factor that has an impact on the purchase decision." However, he acknowledges that "it makes the negotiations with large supermarkets somewhat tougher."