According to the manager, there are various reasons behind this situation. Collapsible plastic crates have become a standard for fruit and vegetables in retail. In addition, many cardboard operators who focused on a variety of sectors have started turning their attention to the fresh produce world due to the crisis in other sectors. "This of course increased competition."
Using cardboard does in fact represent an advantage for producers, as all cardboard packaging used for displays in stores is then processed with compactors located at the retailers' facilities.
"When taken to the paper mill, this material produces a profit of €0.050 per kg. We have also noticed that, when wanting to promote a product or make it stand out, people tend to choose cardboard packaging, as it can be personalised in a way that is not possible with other types of packaging."
Fabrizio is appreciating the work of Consorzio Bestack in the R&D studies around the capability of paper packaging to make fresh produce last longer.
But there are other aspects that concern sustainability that are worth promoting more. For example, cardboard is recyclable and sustainable. Italy is actually very good at this, as it no longer purchases recycled cardboard from abroad, but can actually sell it to countries that do not recycle it, like India or China.
"What is more, one can be creative with cardboard, because different shapes and prints can be chosen. This is how we manage to maintain our market share, even though our costs make us less competitive than other operators."
Ciesse Paper is working to diversify its range by introducing polypropylene packaging. As it is only made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, polypropylene can be considered a clean plastic, as it leaves no residue once disposed of.