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'Sweet solution ticks all the boxes'

06 May 2010

Sharp Interpack provided a major fruit grower and distributor with a packaging solution for soft berries, which provide challenges because they are one of the more delicate foods.

Soft fruit such as berries are among some of the more delicate foods and consumers routinely examine their quality and condition before buying, making the standard of packaging a core concern for the industry.

Delivery of the product in field to plate conditions is paramount despite the sometimes harsh and uncompromising conditions that prevail. In the design of the latest soft berry punnets, there were a number of primary concerns.
First, the punnets needed to be durable and stackable, allowing the fresh fruit to be transported without damage and they needed to offer optimal crate fit in order to keep logistics costs low allowing for more cost effective volumes of fruit to be transported at one time resulting in less lorries on the road.

The punnets also needed to be environmentally sustainable – a major concern for all companies in an age when government policy and consumer opinion centres around carbon footprint. Consumers must also be able to inspect the condition of the fruit before buying, so visibility concerns mean punnets for fruit like this must be transparent.

Fit for purpose: The design team at Sharp Interpack took all these factors into consideration when designing the packaging and provided a sustainable, durable solution The SPS family of soft fruit punnets was developed by the company to meet the specific requirements of the retailer and the soft fruit market, further expanding the company’s range of quality durable food packaging solutions.

The range provided a perfect fit for the fruit grower and transporter, which distributes fruit to major retailers across the country from its UK farms.

Consumers want a 360° view of food products, so they can see exactly what they’re buying. In response to this demand Sharp Interpack’s SPS range offered growers, retailers and end customers excellent product visibility with an uninterrupted product view lengthways.
It is manufactured with a sympathetic rib design concentrated in the corners to maximise strength and ensure the product it holds is protected in challenging packhouse and transportation environments.
The SPS range of punnets is made from up to 80 per cent recycled PET containing post consumer waste from the UK and European waste stream; items such as plastic drinks bottles which have been reground, super-washed and approved for direct food contact. The containers can be heat-sealed or lidded, and stacked for automatic de-nesting, facilitating automatic lifting of the lids from the stacks.

The punnets also feature excellent crate fit, crucial in order to enable economies of scale by transportation of greater quantities of fruit without the risk of damage. Not only this, but larger consignments and fewer vehicles on the road meant cost savings such as lower transport costs and a reduced need for storage space as packaging can be stored on pallets.

Choosing Sharp Interpack, a UK-based packaging producer, over an overseas producer who would have added logistics requirements also helped to reduce the carbon footprint as well as the overall packaging cost for the fruit grower further.

A positive outcome
Sharp Interpack is recognised as the UK’s leading designer and manufacturer of thermoformed rigid plastic packaging for food and non-food use. This is due to the firm’s commitment to providing packaging that is not only protective and practical but which also offers top low-carbon credentials for a variety of customers including major supermarkets, food producers and distributors.

The company provides a range of packaging solutions which include vented designs to allow fruit and vegetables to breathe and reduce condensation by up to 20%, moisture–collecting meat trays, a feature called Sharplok – a series of intricate designs and sharp features in the base of some meat, poultry and fish trays specifically designed to retain excess moisture, drip loss and natural juices, eliminating the need for absorbent drip pads. They also manufacture the lowest ever carbon footprint punnet, (a material called c-LOW) allowing food producers and distributors to boost their environmental credentials at a time of Courtauld 2 when purchasing decisions pivot on reduce, recycle, reformulate.

The packaging solution provided in this instance has meant that the fruit grower has been able to reduce its overall costs and protect the integrity of its fruit throughout the distribution chain. The relationship has also allowed the grower to enhance its environmental credentials, not only as Sharp Interpack is a local supplier, but also because of the outstanding low carbon credentials of the packaging supplied.

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